We’ve all entered that moment of decision. The temptation to act or to think when we know that we shouldn’t. It’s your conscience that tells you, “Stop!” And so you either listen to your conscience or you ignore it. It’s a stop sign that you either stop at or run.
But consciences don’t tell you what to do. They warn you about what not to do.
You see: our conscience warns us against unjust acts, but wisdom tells us how to act wisely.
To be wise means that we live well. We know how to make good decisions and act justly. We can handle finances. We can speak to others with grace and poise. We’ve learned how to live well.
Your conscience may warn you before you make an important decision. But it will not tell you what you ought to do.
And listening to your conscience apart from wisdom can be disastrous for at least two reasons.
Wisdom Trains Your Conscience
First, your conscience is something that requires training. Wisdom trains your conscience. The habits that you develop over time shape your conscience. Your habits of doing good will lead to your conscience warning you about doing evil.
But habits of doing evil will sear your conscience, and it will no longer function like it should. In other words, bad living can break your conscience.
So, wisdom, or wise living, is paramount.
Without Wisdom, Worry Trains Your Conscience
So, what happens without wisdom? What happens when you have trained your conscience unwisely? What happens when you want to do good, but you haven’t lived wisely to train your conscience to work like it ought to?
Your conscience, then, is controlled by whatever controls you (this is the second reason why you need wisdom). Often, this is worry or anxiety. You do something that you feel is wrong or worrisome, then your conscience, trained as it is, goes haywire.
Without wisdom, your conscience beclouds you with worry. Then you panic, trying to alleviate the action or event that triggered your conscience. Unable to calmly make wise decisions, you make anxiety-driven decisions.
You may alleviate your worry or you may make it worse. But no matter what, you’ve only created a pattern in which you perpetually worry whenever your conscience triggers.
So, What Do I Do?
Read the book of Proverbs. Then read Ecclesiastes. And finally, Song of Songs. Proverbs teaches you how to live well, Ecclesiastes to suffer well, and Song of Songs to love well. Together, Solomon teaches you how to live, to think about the world, and to love.
These books can form your conscience. They can give you the wisdom to do what you ought to do and not to do what you ought not. They can give you the wisdom to view the world like you should and not like you should not. They tell you what you should love and what you should not love.
They give you wisdom.
They inform and shape your conscience.
They teach you to live wisely and act justly.
They teach you to do good.
Shape your conscience with wisdom literature. Become wise by reading the same literature. Then act justly. That’s what you must do.