“LET your conscience be your guide” is often-heard advice. But for our conscience to be a reliable guide, it needs to be properly educated in right and wrong, and we must be sensitive to its leading.
Consider the experience of a man named Zacchaeus, as recorded in the Bible. Zacchaeus, who lived in Jericho, was a chief tax collector and a rich man. By his own admission, he had acquired his wealth by means of extortion—a practice that certainly hurt others. Did Zacchaeus’ conscience trouble him over his unrighteous actions? If it did, he had evidently been ignoring it.—Luke 19:1-7.
A situation arose, however, that caused Zacchaeus to reconsider his course. Jesus came to Jericho. Short-statured Zacchaeus wanted to get a look at him, but he could not see him because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a tree for a better view. Impressed by Zacchaeus’ intense interest, Jesus told him that he would visit him in his home. Zacchaeus gladly extended hospitality to his distinguished guest.
What Zacchaeus saw and heard while in association with Jesus touched his heart and moved him to change his ways. He announced: “Look! The half of my belongings, Lord, I am giving to the poor, and whatever I extorted from anyone by false accusation I am restoring fourfold.”—Luke 19:8.
Zacchaeus’ conscience had been enlightened, and he listened and responded to it. The good results were far-reaching. Imagine how Zacchaeus felt when Jesus told him: “This day salvation has come to this house!”—Luke 19:9.
What an encouraging example! It shows that whatever course we have previously pursued, we can change. Like Zacchaeus, we can heed Jesus’ words—recorded in the Bible—and develop our sense of right and wrong. Then we can, as the apostle Peter urged, “hold a good conscience.” We can listen to our trained conscience and do what is right.—1 Peter 3:16.