For What It’s Worth

Response to guilty conscience?

I don’t know if, or how often, burglars battle a guilty conscience, but apparently some California burglars recently came under conviction of their conscience.

On the night of July 31 burglars broke into the San Bernardino County Sexual Assault Services office and stole several computer towers and monitors, along with a laptop. Police summoned Candy Stallings, executive director of the nonprofit organization, who came to the scene. There, she said, she noticed an officer talking to some transients, telling them what was going on and telling them what the organization did.

Apparently, the word got around. About 4:30 a.m. the next morning, Stallings again was called by the police, who reported suspicious activity occurring at her office. When she arrived, she was surprised by what she found. All the stolen items had been returned and were at the front of the door to the agency’s office.

“There was a shopping cart, and there were the PC’s that were taken, there was the laptop—everything was there,” she told a reporter.

When a police investigator opened the laptop while preparing to dust for fingerprints, he found a note tucked inside.

It read: “We had no idea what we were takeing. Here your stuff back we hope that you guys can continue to make a difference in peoples live. God bless.”

“We were all pretty shocked,” Stallings said. “You’ve got to be kidding me. I was in disbelief, I got chills, I got very emotional.”

She wasn’t the only one surprised. San Bernardino Police Lt. Paul Williams said, “This is the first time in my career I have seen the return of stolen items. It appears the guilt of taking the property caused the return of the items.”

Interesting what a guilty conscience will do. I’m assuming that I didn’t have to tell you that. We’ve all been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.

Sometimes, as in this case, a guilty conscience can spur one to an immediate act of restoration or redemption. My guess is that we share that experience.

However, we don’t always respond to a guilty conscience. Right? I don’t know that these burglars have committed other burglaries, but I’m supposing that they have. If so, did they not have a guilty conscience on those other occasions? Will this one experience be enough to keep them from committing another burglary?

What about you and me?  Was the time or times we responded immediately with an act of restoration enough to keep us from committing similar acts that once again stirred our conscience?

Rather than seeking to respond to our guilty conscience by attempting to undo the act that battered our conscience, we need a goal to constantly strive, through faith, not to allow ourselves to take actions that stir our conscience into guilty mode.

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