According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the expression either or is used to refer to a situation in which there is a choice between two different plans of action, but both together are not possible. Today’s world has become a place of countless decisions for each of us.
I remember that as a child there always seemed to be that there were only two possibilities for each decision; right or wrong, black or white, in or out, yes or no, hungry or not hungry, good or bad, behave or misbehave. It was easy to know the difference by how my parents reacted to whatever I said or did. That was the beginning of developing my conscience–that little voice inside my head that reacted positively or negatively to what I did or said. Now it even influences what I think. Or at least it’s supposed to.
As an adult, we face even more decisions. Some are of great impact; do I marry this person or not, do I have children or not, do I take this job or not, do I buy this house or not. I met the girl I would eventually marry while in the 7th grade–not even a teenager yet. We became friends because we hung out with the same group of kids. By the middle of our junior year, I knew I wanted to date her. And before we graduated, I knew she was the girl I wanted to marry. She was already a Christian and I was not. During my sophomore year in college, I got saved. Then she knew that I was the one she should marry. She was following her conscience that moved her to decide not to marry me until we were on the same page spiritually. God has blessed us with 43 (as of this June) years of wedded bliss. As a good Catholic, I had initially had planned on attending Holy Cross with a major in pre-law and a minor in political science. I was planning on becoming a lawyer and would make a lot of money using my natural skills in arguing. Then I got saved and began working kids at my wife’s church. I stayed at Holy Cross as one of two non-Catholics (a Jewish young man and me). But I switched my major to education. And you know much money they make. Over the years, I became a teacher, coach, and youth pastor and had the chance to influence many young people. And I enjoyed every minute of it.
But those were big decisions. What about the small daily decisions we make? Can I sneak in late to work, or should I go over the speed limit to get there on time? Can I “borrow” some office supplies to help fund my at-home office? Should I claim the income from my second job on my income tax? Should I watch the exciting new TV program that pushes the bounds of decency? Should I avail myself of the many things that the internet offers? These are the things that we rationalize as not being important. But in God’s sight, they are. Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming! (Solomon 2:15) It’s these little “foxes” that sear our conscience. And once we give in to these little temptations, God says,”These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.” (I Timothy 4:2) Like church deacons, We must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. (I Timothy 3:9)
What happens when our conscience become seared and no longer helps direct our path? God sees us like the church at Laodicea; ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,…(Revelation 6:15-17) How does this affect our spiritual life? For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. (Luke 6:43-45)
I don’t know about you, but I want to be a tree that bears good fruit. And I don’t want to be bad-tasting spit in God’s mouth.