Paul’s words are very striking in verse 1.
My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.
How many of us can say the same thing? That our consciences are clear before God? That all we do in life and in ministry has been done with a good conscience? That not only our actions, but our motives are pure before him?
But even if we feel like we have a clean conscience, it’s interesting to note what Paul told the Corinthians in his first letter to them.
It is of little importance to me that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I don’t even judge myself. For I am not conscious of anything against myself, but I am not justified by this. It is the Lord who judges me. So don’t judge anything prematurely, before the Lord comes, who will both bring to light what is hidden in darkness and reveal the intentions of the hearts. And then praise will come to each one from God. (I Corinthians 4:3-5)
In other words, just because we feel our consciences are clean, it doesn’t mean that our actions and motives are always right.
So what am I saying? Constantly search your heart. Even if you think your actions and motives are right, pray each day as David did.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my concerns.
See if there is any offensive way in me;
lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23-24)
And remember: even if you feel like you’re doing well, you do so by the grace of God. There’s no boasting in that.
And when we’re not doing well, it is the grace of God that sustains us.
So let us live each day by that grace. (Romans 5:1-2)