|Volume 19 Number 6 June 2017||
Donald R. Fox
As I read my copy of the Retirement Services Newsletter, Fall 2010, published by Fort Rucker, Alabama, I noted a great quotation as follows. “The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it” (Norman Schwarzkopf). General Schwarzkopf was the commander of the Coalition Forces during the Gulf War of 1991. The liberation of Kuwait and Iraq occurred during this time. General Schwarzkopf became an instant hero and was recognized as a straight, no nonsense commander. From the quotation, we can ascertain that the general understood and affirmed that we can know the difference between right and wrong.
Why would the general recognize the right thing to do? I suggest that “Stormin’ Norman” had a traditional, God-fearing upbringing that adhered to a code of right thinking and acting. Further, with this code there must be a fixed standard of knowing the right thing to do. He understood right from wrong. Our nation was founded on Judaic-Christian principles; therefore, we as people try to comply with these precepts. Doing the right thing takes fortitude. Too often wrong is the easy route and the path of weakness. Do you still wrestle with doing the right thing?
The conscience is clear when we do right. As to the definition of the conscience, someone made the following concise statement. “Conscience is a good feeling that results from doing that which you have been taught is right, and a bad feeling that results from doing that which you have been taught is wrong. …I can’t find any fault with this definition” (Fred A. Amick, Hearing for Eternity, Vol. II, 71).
When Paul was killing Christians, his conscience was clear, because he was doing what he had been taught was right. However, this did not make it right. In alluding to the time when he had been a blasphemer and persecutor of Christ he said he was the chiefest of sinners. (1 Tim. 1:12-15). God extended him mercy because “he did it ignorantly in unbelief.” (1 Tim. 1:13). He was completely honest with himself. When he learned he was wrong, the only way he could keep his good conscience was to turn from the wrong, and make restitution. This he did at the earliest opportunity.” (Amick 77)
See Acts 22 for information about Paul, his rearing and zeal as a Jew, and his conversion to Christianity.
Have we not all wrestled with the concept of our God-given conscience? All truth seekers are thankful for this gift. Years ago I had come to the conclusion that the only safe guide for mankind is the Word of God, the Bible. Every ethical system, moral code, so-called sacred book and the array of religious beliefs conceived by men all fall by the wayside. Is our conscience a safe guide? No, it is not! Our conscience must have an infallible safe guide. Another thought, in conclusion, of our study is what if one knows the right thing to do and rejects God’s true standard? God help us to be honest with ourselves and obedient to our Creator.
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments” (Psalm 119:105-106 KJV). “In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death” (Proverbs 12:28). “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17). “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness” (2 Timothy 2:15-16). “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
Today, on what are you focusing? Some big project on which you’ve been working? Marital problems with which you’ve been dealing? Parenting struggles? What’s your focus? Will it be problems, or will you focus on God’s blessings and on what He wants for your life? Every moment is a chance to think of and celebrate God’s blessings in life, but we often turn our moments into time spent dwelling on the negatives of life. Instead of dwelling on the bad times, why not take a moment (right now) to thank God for what you’ve been given? Why not focus on the joys with which God has blessed you? Have you thanked Him for the blessing of being His child? For your spouse? For your children? For your grandchildren? “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4 NKJV).