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A story told by Jerry White illustrates the impact of conscience. He writes: "My daddy used to read the cartoon series, `Moon Mullins' to me. . . .That was sort of our Sunday time together when my mother would leave me home with my dad to sort of shame him for not going to church. ...One of the main characters in the comic strip was a guy named Willie. In one strip, he's slumped in front of the TV set with a coffee cup resting on his pot belly as he flicks his cigar ashes into his cup. He says to his wife, `You're awful quiet this morning, Mamie.' And she says in return, `Willie, I've decided to let your conscience be your guide on your day off.' In the next scene, Willie is surrounded by a lawn mower and an edger and a hoe and a shovel and he's frantically washing the windows and muttering, 'Every time I listen to that dumb thing I end up ruinin' my relaxin' " (Jerry White: Honesty, Morality and Conscience. Quoted by Charles Swindon, p 117: The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart & 1,501 Other Stories).

Your conscience can ruin your relaxing. Just ask the apostle Peter. Mark 14:66-72 records that the night Jesus was (mis)tried by Jewish leaders at the home of the high priest, Caiphas, Peter had followed "at a distance" right into the courtyard where he warmed himself at the fire, likely surrounded by enemies of Jesus (vs 54). But the fire wasn't the only thing that proved to be hot. As Peter relaxed at the fire, a servant girl of the high priest began to identify him as a disciple of Jesus. Peter denied that he knew the Lord not once, not twice, but three times. During his third and most vehement denial, a rooster crowed for the second time during the incident. But the rooster wasn't the only thing crowing by now. Peter's conscience is howling at him, and in short time it completely ruined any relaxing he was doing as he sat at the fire with those who hated the Lord. Mark records in verse 72 that when the rooster crowed the second time, "Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him (earlier that night) 'Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.' And when he thought about it, he wept." Matthew 26:75 adds the more descriptive note that he went out and wept bitterly." Peter repented and was completely restored by the Lord. But not before his conscience had ruined his relaxing.

How about you? Does your conscience ever crow? People are relaxing in sins that range from sexual immorality to forsaking worship assemblies to cursing to harboring resentment and refusing to forgive. If you are relaxing in some sin, God wants to ruin your relaxing! The voice of conscience is one of the chief ways God seeks to reach you. When the conscience crows and ruins our relaxing, we can do one of two things: we can resist. . . .or we can repent. What will you do when your conscience crows?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ