In 1 Peter 3, the apostle tells the church to “Have a good conscience so that evildoers who speak evil of you and falsely accuse your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”
He we was warning them that, even when doing good, slander and attack would be a part of their lives.
I must admit, I was naïve enough to think that I would never have to walk this verse out. I thought that as long as I lived right and didn’t do anyone wrong, then no one would ever have anything to say about me. I guess you know how that works in the real world.
Peter wants us to understand that there will be people who will accuse and attack you, even if you do the right thing. But he also tells us the best thing that we can have to help us in those moments. He says “Have a good conscience.”
What is a good conscience…? I like this definition from the early fifth century; Hilary of Arles said, “Your conscience is the part of you which embraces what is good and which rejects evil. It is like the doorkeeper of a house which is open to friends and closed to enemies.”
Your conscience helps you guard yourself despite the opinions of others. But not only is a conscious a helper in keeping you on the right path, a clean conscience is also a great thing when you do face accusation. It’s one thing for people to accuse you, but it is another for it to be true. You cannot control what others say, but you can control what you do. And, when you have been doing the right thing, you can let whatever folks say come and go.
So how do we maintain a good conscience? Right living and ready repentance. First practice right living. In all you do, seek to please God. And when you do fall short, whether it be willful transgression or some omission, don’t hesitate to repent. The moment you become aware of an issue in your spiritual life. Repent. Ask for forgiveness and move forward.
There is no real cure for slander and unwarranted attack. It is inevitable and it wounds terribly. However, a clean conscience is a great salve for those injuries.