Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. - Psalm 119:105

Bible Study Notes

The Character of Discernment

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
To give wise judgment in decisions.

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

 

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!

 

 

Further Questions

 

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?

 

             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!

 
Jesus tells us to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matt. 10:16-26). This means we are called to be prudent in our actions and in discernment so to prevent needless suffering and strife in our own lives, while still showing the love and forgiveness of our Lord without compromising the precepts of His Word! Thus, to make the best decisions, we are to interpret what we see and hear by seeking biblical principles, not the approval, acceptance, or selfishness of self and others. Nor are we to become jaded and cynical or take ourselves too seriously (seeking our will and not God's)! This involves the ability to see all the points of view of a dilemma or evaluation, then to go deeper below the surface to see the "why" from causes, agendas, motivations, and personal reasons, and finally, to distinguish what is best, real, and true as well as evil and wrong before making an intelligent, sensible decision.
 
Discernment is a call to seek God's purpose in order to make a distinction and discriminate between what is good and right from what is wrong and evil (Phil. 2:5; 4:8). It is always meant to pay attention to and be aware of the needs and ideas of other people as well as personal agendas. In addition, always make sure there is accountability! There is not always a clear right or wrong side. Nonetheless, in a worldly age of pluralism and relativism, we are still called to do our best to exercise wise judgments at all times and then stand for them unless they are proven to be unbiblical. There are differences between judgment and discernment. We are called to be discerning, not allowing harm to come to us or others in our care, and to be sensitive to potential trouble, attempting to prevent the bad actions of others. We are also to do this without interfering in the personal lives of others, unintentionally sidestepping God's work in them (Mark 4:19; John 21:21-22). We are called to be discerning of what is right and wrong because the Bible gives us clear absolutes. The relativism that the world teaches is evil and wrong; we must clearly and lovingly proclaim moral and doctrinal standards that are biblical and unambiguous (Acts 5:3-4; Rom. 14:1-12; Gal. 3:1; 1 Thess. 5:21; James 4:11-12; 2 Pet. 2:1-3). This means that we are not to allow immorality and false teachings to come about inside the church, or allow such things to attack the church from the outside.
 
To know the will of God, we must deny ourselves and align our lives to be obedient to and focus on God's perspective, not our frail ways! We have been informed by Scripture not to place our mind in neutral. We are to use it because when we just rely on our emotions, we will be led away from what is good and right into chaos and confusion. Taking a careful look and thinking clearly will enable us to follow the right path, especially when it is combined with prayer and counsel! So, we must think and carry out what we know is true as revealed by the Word (Phil. 4:8-9)!
 

Discernment also means letting God be in control, as He does not want us to be controlled by our past or to be fearful or cowardly. Rather, we are to learn from our experiences and grow from them. We not only need to be sure we do not repeat mistakes, but also we are not to be tied to them so they become our identity. When we do not have a clue of what to do with our lives or are considering a job change, we need to seek the counsel of the Great Counselor, Our Lord, for He will always respond. But remember, the career choices you make should be based on lots of prayer and considering your natural talents and Spiritual Gifts. If you do not know them, then you need to spend the time to find them. When we skip our gifts and call and just go with the flow, we will become frustrated and dissatisfied in our work; God has a better plan! Remember that career and education are means for us to grow and learn. But, life is about relationships¾first with God and then with those around us. This is not skipping school for the party life, nor is it being so devoted to a career that we forget God and family. We must find a healthy balance and consider all we learn here and what God's will really is!

 

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!

 

If we are claiming Christ as Lord, we need to be living the life, not just talking about it, or just showing up for the club meetings (church)! 

 

 

© 2005 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org  

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