Links Daily Devotional

In Good Conscience, Part 1

They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing and at other times even defending them. (Romans 2:15, NIV)

We all know that golf comes in two forms—the downright serious form and the mess-around-with-your-buddies form.

In the downright serious arena we argue about anchored putting and contend that today’s balls fly too far for the good of the game. We count every shot and post every round. And come tournament time, we must hold our caddies to the same set of strict rules we adhere to ourselves.

In the mess-around-with-your-buddies form, mulligans and gimmes are the order of the day. If a friend wants to use a long putter, so be it; it’ll all even out through the handicap system—though few in this category play within that system at all. Their truer handicap is the number of beers they consume in the span of the round.

This bifurcated system perpetuates itself because those playing by the first from mostly disregard those playing by the second form. Collect their greens fees and let them have at it. They’ve not bothered to learn the Rules of the Game, so why should we expect them to play by these Rules? And we know—and they know—that in the way they play, they have already disqualified themselves from real competition. How do they know this? They know it by catching just a glimpse of those who do it right. They know it by catching wind that Tiger Woods—and everyone knows Tiger Woods—is under fire for a “bad drop.” Really, they wonder, all this over a couple of feet? But through such news they are made aware of a law in the land of golf. And they know that they’ve never really made an effort to live by such a law.

But why would they care? Aren’t they playing among friends, sometimes counting all the shots, but not always?

They might care because, no matter how casually they play, they have a conscience. It is the voice inside that reminds them that while their game is “fun,” it is not official. It’s just a chasing of the ball around some nice grassy landscape.

While it’s easy to suppress such a conscience on the golf course and let the game be a game, the same is not true in the spiritual realm. Our consciences, Paul explained to the Romans, have been supplied for the purpose of guiding our actions. Even those who live outside the structure of the law of Scripture—be that the Old Testament Law of Moses or the New Testament law of love laid out by Jesus and the apostles—possess such a conscience. Their consciences, placed in them by the Designer of all people, are indeed their guides, even when they are not given to calling on his name. And these consciences, in excellent symmetry, bear witness within them to the existence of that Designer.

Jeff Hopper

June 10, 2013

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