Did you know that your conscience is a perfect record? It remembers everything you have ever thought or done. Even more than that, it weighs and records your motives, the reasons behind what you say or do. It's the honest part of you, the source of all integrity, the part that is most like the One who made you. Whenever you think, speak, or act in conflict with what you know is good and true and pure, something takes place in your conscience. An accounting happens, a weighing up. The same accounting happens as well, whenever you choose the good over the evil, going the right way (especially when it costs you to do so). An entry then too, is made upon your conscience.
Have you ever winced as you suddenly remembered something that you have said or done, even many years ago? For a moment, the regret is so intense, jumping out onto you like a ghost from the past. I am not talking about some religious guilt trip here; I am talking about real things that you knew in your guts were wrong and for a brief, vulnerable moment your conscience replays that fragment of your life with painful accuracy. Most often the anguish soon fades to a dull ache, leaving you wondering where that came from anyway.
There are things that no one knows about, not your father, not your mother, not your closest friend. Often you yourself will hardly even acknowledge that you did those things. These are the skeletons in your closet.
I knew a woman, who for many years carried on an adulterous relationship with another man all the while married and living with her husband. He never knew. Can you imagine the skillful lies, the practiced insincerity? I'm sure it became easier as time went on. Of course, one day it came to light, complete with the devastation, bitterness, and the tangle of justifications one would expect. The damage was irreparable.
That was years ago and this same woman is now a highly respected schoolteacher who works enthusiastically to develop programs to help her students. She has completed several postgraduate degrees in her field and her friends and colleagues know her as a warm, intelligent and caring person.
Being often disturbed about the state of the world, she gives generously to aid wherever she can, but be assured that deep inside, the accumulated guilt lies upon her conscience, smothered by countless reasonings, hidden even from herself.
A person with guilt upon his conscience will often do many "good things" in an attempt to balance their account.
In fact, most charities and entire religions are funded and manned according to this principle. They depend upon this innate urge in man to find some way to make up for the wrongs they know they've committed. Their instinctive sense of justice foretells of a day of reckoning, a day when all the books are opened and the justifications do not work any more.
This awareness is not an invention of the religious, although most of man's responses to it form the fabric of religion. "What a man sows, so shall he reap." What goes around, comes around. The truth is undeniable and you do not need a Bible to understand it. You already know because your Creator put that knowledge in you before you were born.
So you try to be nice to the people at work. You give to your favorite charity and maybe you even go to church, but whose scales are you using to judge the worth of your deeds? Does giving out of your surplus to World Vision really balance out the debt recorded in your conscience? You say you believe in The Golden Rule, but do you know your neighbor's needs? Do you even know his name?
Truly righteous people's lives are consistent; they give even when no one is looking. They struggle to live by the truth they know inside themselves. And when they do not, it grieves them and they go back to that situation and make it right. That is the distinguishing mark of righteous people: they humble themselves, facing embarrassment and even public shame to go back to the person they wronged, to make it right with him. They do not try to offset the evil somewhere else. They don't bury their guilt in good works or in the convenience of saying "God sees my heart."
The great harm caused to another human being's soul cannot be balanced out by giving tax-exempt donations to charity. It seems good and fair, but a theft has taken place: a human being was robbed. And true payment will have to be made. On the Day of Judgment when the secrets and motives of all men's hearts will be revealed, the evil can no longer be offset.
The proverb is true which says: "God hates dishonest scales, but accurate weights are His delight."