When Jesus appeared to Saul (soon to be the Apostle Paul) He told him something very interesting. He said:
“It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
Now up unto this point Saul had been a persecutor of Christians. Reading through this today this verse stood out to me and I had to research what a “goad” was. I found out that it is a sharp pointed stick used to move oxen. So what I get from this is that Jesus was telling Saul it’s hard to keep doing that which was hurting him. Kicking against a pointed stick is going to hurt! Also since a goad is used to push oxen in a certain direction Jesus could have been implying that Saul was fighting against a direction he was being pushed. Reading into this even more we could conclude that Jesus was telling Saul that deep down he knew what he was doing was wrong. He knew he was headed in the wrong direction and that it was hurting him but he was continuing that way anyways.
I think “the goads” symbolizes our conscience.
Paul later wrote this to the Romans:
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them. -Romans 2:14-15
Here Paul is telling us that many people who do not know God or have His written word still act out morally and often know by their conscience that what they are doing is either right or wrong. They know this because there is a natural moral law written on the hearts of men and implanted by God in all people.
Sometimes I just don’t understand us humans. I can think back to specific points in my life where I was clearly acting against what I knew to be right. I have deliberately disobeyed my conscience and done that which I knew would hurt me. Why? Why do we do this?
It’s hard to kick against the goads.