Discernment is described in Scripture as the love of wisdom. It is the ability to seek a resolution, not blame. To give wise judgment in decisions takes sensitivity to all sides, then the ability to discriminate between the bad/wrong choices and the right/wise choice. We are to be sharp and informed people of God by focusing our thoughts on who God is in order to see what is appropriate as well as discern personal obstacles that hinder the Spirit of God (Psalm 119:125; Prov. 1:5; 3:31; 8:9; 18:15; 16:21-24; 25:5; Matt. 16-26; Rom. 13:11-14; 16:19; Phil. 1:9-11).
Foolishness, Gullibility, Judging hastily, and Prevarication are the opposites. An undiscerning Christian will cause massive destruction to the mission and role of the church. He or she can allow false truths to be taught, emotions to get out of control, and sin to go on without repentance or reverence to God. When a body of believers is not discerning, a vacuum will form and suck in all kinds of filth and dirt like a regular vacuum cleaner, except that no cleaning will occur because the bag will be the church. Then the character and role the church conveys to the community will be filth and muck!
Discernment is a call for all Christians to exercise prudence in their lives and church; it is also a Spiritual gift! As a gift of the Spirit, Discernment is the ability to know, with assurance, whether certain behaviors or teachings purported to be of God are in reality divine, human, or satanic. The purpose of this gift is to prevent confusion and false teaching from infiltrating the church. Those with this gift will have extra insights and be able to motivate others in this area (Matthew 16:21-23; Acts 5:1-11; 16:16-18; 1 Corinthians 12:10; 14:40; 1 John 4:1-6). But Discernment is not just a Spiritual Gift; Psalm 119:125 and James 1:5-6 tell us we are to ask for Discernment and Proverbs 3:31 tells us we have the responsibility to act upon it!
Real love requires growth and maturation. Love also needs the knowledge of what it is in order for it to be practiced correctly and purely. For love to increase in our lives and our relationships with God and others, the information and investigations into it must precede its effective practice (Prov. 18:15; 2 Cor. 5:10; Col. 1:9; 1 Thess. 3:12; 4:10; 2 Thess. 1:3). And, in the context of the passages that tell us that as with this precept, so it is with discernment, being wise in decisions needs to be formed in us in the same way!
Is the Character of Discernment working in you?
Here is how you can find out. Take a careful look at this character and fruit of Discernment from God's most precious Word by examining the passages below. Now ask yourself:
1. How do I exhibit Discernment in my daily life?
2. What can I do to develop a better willingness to be Discerning?
3. What blocks Discernment from working and being exhibited in me?
4. How can I make Discernment function better, stronger, and faster even in times of uncertainly and stress?
· Here are positive examples from Scripture: Gen. 41: 33-41; Deut. 1:13; 1 Kings 3:1-28; 2 Chron. 2:12; Prov. 14:33; 16:21; 18:15; Luke 10:38-42; 23:13-16
· Here are negative examples from Scripture: Num. 13:31-33; 20; 9-12; Deut. 32:1-31; 1 Kings 12; Prov. 10:14; 14:6; 15:14; Luke 10:38-42; 23:23-25
1.How would you define Discernment? To what are you devoted?
2.How do you make decisions? Do you look for all sides of a situation and biblical precepts? Do you ask God for an understanding and discerning mind? If not, why not?
3.How does indifference to God and His call impact the attitude of Discernment? What is the cost to others (God, family, friends, neighbors, church family, co-workers, etc.) when you are a person who is focused on selfish interests?
4.What happens to your relationship with God and others, and with the opportunities God gives you when you fail to glorify Christ?
5.When have you been filled with Discernment the most?
6.In what situation did you fail to have an attitude of Discernment when you should have?
7.What issue is in your life that would improve with more Discernment?
8.Think through the steps you need to take to put Discernment into action in a specific instance, such as, where is Discernment lacking proper function in my Christian walk, and what can I do about it? How would the intercession of prayer for all involved help you make better decisions?
© 2005, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org