“Then I remember my mother saying that if a burn’s severe, the victim might not even feel pain because the nerves would be destroyed. Encouraged by this, I sit up and swing my leg in front of me.”
Katniss had been burned pretty severely and it hurt, badly. In the midst of surely gritting her teeth for the pain, she remembered to be thankful for the pain. Pain isn’t fun, but for her it was a sign of life. A truly bad burn wouldn’t hurt because it would have killed the nerves. Her pain was simply a sign of the health of her skin.
That principle is applicable to so many areas of our lives, but perhaps none so clearly as in the area of our conscience. Our conscience is kind of like our spiritual nerves. Sin is like fire. When we play with fire (experiment with sin) we get little burns; maybe big burns depending on the size of the fire. At first it hurts. Our “nerves” get irritated, damaged, inflamed…and they make us uncomfortable. That is our conscience letting us know that we have done something which is bad to our spiritual health. No one likes to feel uncomfortable about their decisions and lifestyle, just like no one likes to feel the pain of a burn. We need to remember, however, that that discomfort is a good thing—a blessing even. It’s a sign of the health of our spiritual life.
That pain motivated Katniss to care for her wound. She cleaned the wound, made sure nothing touched or irritated it further, and applied some salve—all so that she could heal quickly and fully. When our conscience pains us, we ought to let it motivate us to take similar measures. To clean the wound, we confess. We need to go to the Lord and tell Him that we know what we’ve done. He knows, but confession is about agreeing with Him about the wrongness of it. It’s the cleaning process, and it’s necessary for healing.
After we confess, we need to be sure we don’t do anything which would cause further injury. This is repentance. It’s turning from what we’ve done and choosing not to repeat the wrong. Our salve comes from God’s Word. When we are stinging from conviction over things we’ve done, we can read about His love and forgiveness and find relief every bit as potent (and healing) as the salve Haymitch sent to Katniss. Truths like “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” and “a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” bring welcome relief to a burning conscience. Or how about this as a salve for a soul who is grieving over wrongs done:
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
We have a choice though. We don’t have to confess and repent. We don’t have to turn to God’s Word to soothe our pain. We can instead choose to deaden our spiritual nerves. We can choose to numb our conscience so that it doesn’t pain us at all when we sin. We can do this by being repeat offenders. If we choose to be repeat offenders in our sin, eventually our spiritual nerves (aka our conscience) will grow numb…and that is when the real problems begin.
Katniss could have done this. She could have burned her leg more and more until eventually the nerves were dead and she didn’t feel any more pain. It would have stopped the pain, but it wouldn’t have promoted any healing. In fact, that lack of pain would have signaled that the wound was so severe that death was on its way. The same is true for us. A numb conscience is a sign of spiritual deadness.
The good news is that if your conscience is dead, it can be revived again. We can get a spiritual skin graft. We can come to Jesus with our dead spiritual nerves and ask Him to graft us into His life. Just look at what the Bible promises us if we do: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[a] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” All we have to do is ask!
Questions for Discussion:
- Have you ever “burned” your spiritual nerves? How did you feel?
- Do you look on pain as a good thing or a bad thing when it refers to your health? How about when it refers to your spiritual health?
- Would you say that your conscience is healthy and hurts when it gets too close to sin? Or has your conscience been burned by sin so many times it’s getting numb to it?
- When you have a burn on your conscience, how good are you at cleaning it, repenting, and applying the salve of God’s Word?
- Are you more likely to heal your conscience or try to ignore it and numb it?
- Have you been grafted into Jesus’ life so that your conscience receives its health and life from Him?
-By Stacey Tuttle-
Click here to see all the Hunger Games inspired Devotions.
Click here to see a compilation of quotes from the Hunger Games