Conscience. It’s how God helps us grow in our relationship with Him and with others. Children usually have very tender conscience, and will quickly confess when their conscience is telling them they have done something wrong.
Our conscience is for our protection. If we ignore it enough it will cease to be heard. In order for our conscience to stay healthy we must listen to it and act when we know we should.
Those who choose to ignore their conscience move from conscience to guilt.
Those who are guilty, hide. Take Adam and Eve for instance; as soon as they sinned against God they hid themselves from Him. Rather than listen to their conscience and tell God what they had done. They became guilty and afraid and rightly so.
Take this same thought and apply it to your marriage.
If we have done something we know will hurt our spouse, we have two choices. 1. Listen to our conscience and talk to them about it or, 2. Decide we can handle it on our own and keep it a secret. Even if you have every intention of never doing this again, keeping it a secret almost guarantees that you will do it again given the right opportunity.
Why is confession so important?
“If we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
If we humble ourselves before God it will be easier to do the same with our spouse. Humility is the soil where all the other virtues grow. Cultivate this and you will make room to grow in all other areas. Pride hides, humility confesses.
We can make it easier on our spouse to be honest with us in several ways.
- Talk about this issue before there is a reason talk about it.
- Commit to each other that you will be open and honest, even when it is uncomfortable to do so.
- Don’t react when they are telling you something they did or didn’t do. Listen first.
- Assure your spouse that divorce isn’t an option.
- Ask questions to find out more information. Oftentimes the one confessing is testing the waters to see how you will handle it. If it doesn’t seem safe, they won’t confess everything.
- Pray with and for your spouse.
- You are your spouse’s best friend, or should be. Treat your spouse like you would treat a close friend.
I know early in our marriage when we faced our first conflict requiring confession and repentance, that initial confession was the hardest. Once confession began, the words poured out like a waterfall. What felt releasing to one, felt like a smack in the face to the other. The one who sinned had finally regained a clean conscience, and the weight of it all released them from guilt.
The other however, had no idea this was coming. The weight of what they were hearing was incapacitating. By the grace of God we weren’t alone in this moment; The Holy Spirit walked us carefully through it and helped us learn, grow and change.
I’d like to say this was the only time it happened, but that wouldn’t be honest. We had just learned how to go forward in our marriage with a clear conscience, as long as we both guarded it for the good of the other.
The result? We became more accountable to each other. kept no secrets from each other e..g. private chats, phone numbers, activities, habits or contacts. This is still true to this day. We share passwords on all our devices. We can pick up each other’s phone at any time and not be offended that they’re looking. And we can talk about anything with which we are struggling.
It hasn’t gotten any easier. Sin never cooperates with the conscience for it knows that it must stay in the dark to survive. Our conscience is a gift from God, like a light showing the way out of darkness. The question to answer is, Who are you going to listen to?
Conversation Prompt: Plan an evening to talk about the condition of your consciences. It may be the best and most important conversation you’ll have for the future health of your relationship.