January 12, 2011
Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. Romans 13:5
Here's a question for the trivia expert: who was Cliff Edwards?
Congratulations to those who got it right. Cliff Edwards was the voice of Jiminy Cricket. You know, the voice of the cartoon character that was the conscience of Pinocchio.
Of course, most of us don't have a cricket for a conscience. What we have is a God-given sense of right and wrong. It's a concept that modern man doesn't much like. He thinks conscience -- along with sin, guilt, ethics and morality -- is just some leftover baggage from "once upon a time in a land far, far away."
Apparently, nobody told Wayne Leonard Hurst he shouldn't pay attention to his conscience.
Let me tell you Hurst's story.
Hurst is unemployed and without money to pay rent, utilities or buy food.
In such circumstances Hurst did something sinful, dangerous and illegal. In short, he held up a bank. He was successful in the amount of $3,688. And as they say in old gangster films: he got away "clean."
Yes, Hurst got away clean -- clean except for his conscience. The day after the robbery he started to think about what he had done. Indeed, Hurst felt so bad about the crime he had committed, he ended up getting sick. That's when he decided to turn himself in.
Now if Hurst's story was a TV show, or a movie, or a book, something would happen; someone would say something to make him realize he was being a "sap" to think about turning himself in. But Hurst's story isn't a TV show, or a movie, or a book. It's the story of God convicting a sinner of a transgression.
What happened is this: Hurst got directions to the Marion County Jail and he walked, yes, he walked five miles to turn himself in and return what was left of the money.
It was one of those moments when the angels in heaven rejoiced. Rejoicing is what angels do when a sinner repents. It's what we should be doing, too. We should rejoice that nobody was hurt in the robbery and rejoice that Hurst's conscience got the best of him, rejoicing that the Lord won.
Now Hurst will probably have to pay his debt to society, but his debt before the Father has already been taken care of by Jesus. Just as your debt and my debt have been taken care of, and the angels rejoice over that, too.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord for saving sinners like Wayne Hurst and like me, I give thanks. In Jesus' Name I praise You. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries