A young man walked into the dean’s office to say that others were spreading the rumor that he had been seen in a tavern. He wanted the dean to know that this was not true. The next day he returned to say that he had lied, but that he had taken only one drink. A short time later the dean learned that this confession was incomplete. The student had taken several drinks and had danced as well. Both actions were against the rules. After some questioning, the student admitted that he had made only a partial confession. He was afraid to tell the truth for fear of the consequences.
One questionable act often leads one to commit another in order to cover up the first one. Many people suffer terrible pangs of conscience because of unwholesome acts. The following couplet expresses this thought well:
There is a secret in his breast
That will never let him rest.
How good it is to forsake your wicked ways–to repent–to be able to say with Paul, “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9).
The following are newspaper accounts of people who found it necessary to correct improper actions:
Harry Jorgenson of South Dakota bought a dog for ten dollars. About a year later the pet disappeared. He made every effort to find it, with no success. More than twenty-five years passed. Then recently a car bearing a Nebraska license drove into the Jorgenson yard. The driver went to the house and said, “I am the fellow who took your dog many years ago. It has bothered me, and I want to pay for the animal.” He paid Mr. Jorgenson twenty-five dollars for the dog he had stolen nearly twenty-five years previously.
Harold Ashby, a Coca-Cola truck driver, received the following note at one of the places he served on his route: “Mr. Coca-Cola Man, my brother and I are very sorry that we took the Coke that was missing and we want to pay you.” In the envelope was cash to pay for the drinks.
Recently a large Detroit hotel received a small amount of cash in the mail. This note was attached: “Here’s a donation to help my conscience.”
One woman wrote to a hotel last year and asked to make restitution. She had taken a bedspread fifteen years previously. The souvenir still haunted her conscience.
These examples illustrate the importance of proper actions. You must live with yourself. Before you can live at peace with your neighbor, you must be at peace with yourself. 1 Corinthians 6:12 and 10:23 provide a standard for measuring the quality of your actions. Every act of every day, every simple deed, is or is not an act of obedience to God. As you retire at night and meditate upon the day, you will realize that the quality of the multitude of deeds done that day will determine whether God could say to you, “Well done, good and faithful slave” (Matthew 25:21, 23). “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” (Galatians 6:9).
In this lesson we have considered two steps toward personal peace–proper speech and proper actions. Lesson 2 will continue this subject, dealing with proper desires, proper feelings, and proper thoughts.