The Eye of Discernment

Ron Thomas tells a story about an elderly woman who stood on a very busy street corner in rush hour traffic. She was fearful, confused, and hesitant to cross by herself.

Finally, a gentleman came up to her and asked if he could cross the street with her. Grateful and very relieved, she took his arm and stepped into the busy intersection. As they proceeded, she grew progressively alarmed as he zigzagged randomly across the street, to the blare of horns and screech of locked brakes.

Finally, after reaching their destination, she turned to the man and complained, “You almost got us killed! You walk like you’re blind.”

“I am,” he replied. “That’s why I asked if I could cross with you.”

Life is full of choices. Discernment is required for making good decisions. Obviously, this lady made a poor choice. The very one who she thought would provide her safety and security, was in desperate need for guidance himself. It reminds us of Jesus’ observation: “If the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matt 15:14).

As we continue our theme this year, “20/20 Vision: Restoring Our Focus,” it’s imperative that we develop discernment. Spiritual discernment.

This was Paul’s prayer for the Philippian brethren.

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Phil 1:9-10)

The English word translated “discernment” is from a Greek word that Thayer describes as “perception, not only by the senses but also by the intellect.” A. T. Robertson defines it as “delicate spiritual perception.”

It is the judicious ability to see with our spiritual eyes. It is an enlightenment that Hendricken says is “born of experience.” He further observes that it “is the ability of mind and heart to separate not only the good from the bad but also the important from the unimportant.”

Joseph M. Stowell, in Fan the Flame, writes that “Discernment in Scripture is the skill that enables us to differentiate. It is the ability to see issues clearly. We desperately need to cultivate this spiritual skill that will enable us to know right from wrong. We must be prepared to distinguish light from darkness, truth from error, best from better, righteousness from unrighteousness, purity from defilement, and principles from pragmatics.”

This text reminds us that love is not enough. Our love, while well-intentioned might be blinded by our lack of knowledge, insight, and perceptiveness. People can fool us. Emotions can deceive us. Situations are not always what they appear to be. Discernment is necessary to see below the surface.

In fact, even knowledge by itself without spiritual discernment will leave us short-sighted. It’s possible to intellectually understand God’s Word, but fail to see how it applies in our lives. How it regulates relationships. Guides the home. Directs our decisions in the workplace. And provides principles that aid us in our day to day choices.

Furthermore, knowledge is learning what God has said and done, but discernment is understanding why God said it or did it.

The Bible says that God “made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel (Ps 103:7). The people got to see what God did, but Moses was able to understand why. Discernment offers deeper insight and aids in answering the “why” questions of life.

Discernment is vitally important because we live “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” Because “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” our culture, like Isaiah described the ancient world, calls “ evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isa. 5:20).

The redefinition of marriage. Abortion on demand. Gender identify confusion. Animal rights activists. Extreme environmentalism. Sexual perversion. The rejection of moral absolutes. And add to all of this the confusion caused by Cultist religions and corrupt Christianity. No wonder people have lost their way in the confusing maze and moral mess in which we live. More than ever an eye of discernment is required.

The English writer and lexicographer, Samuel Johnson, was right when he wrote, “The supreme end of education is expert discernment in all things–the power to tell the good from the bad, the genuine from the counterfeit, and to prefer the good and the genuine to the bad and the counterfeit.”

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

2 Comments

Filed under 20/20 Vision Series

2 responses to “The Eye of Discernment

  1. It is a wonderful world we live in. How we see the world determines how we live in it. Nicodemus risked his reputation as the Teacher of Israel and respected member of the Assembly to spend the night with Jesus (John 3:1-21). It was during this intimate “face to face” conversation that Jesus said…For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

    The Church is divided on the issues of marriage, abortion and animal rights. The Church needs to stop condemning the world. The Church is the body of Christ. It needs to reconcile and make peace with all its members (male and female, straight and gay). When one member suffers it affects the whole. When a husband and a wife cling to one another in holy matrimony they promise to love, honour and cherish one another. A good example of cherishing love comes from Ezekiel 16: 1-9. According to Gary Thomas in his book “Cherish the one word that changes everything for your marriage” people who love one another don’t dwell on one another’s faults. They love each other where they are and inspire one another to be the best that each can be.

    We “ken” do it when we use Love as a muscle that cherishes the heart and let 1 Corinthians 13 and Song of Songs work together. A covenant protects the couples love. Ideally, when laws disallow loving couples to live together or even talk with one another the laws need to be challenged and overturned. Knowing the name of Jesus allows Christians to see how the Victory of the People was reborn and how Jesus became the Mega Helene..our liberty torch and our Church when Peter stood up and spoke for her.

  2. Ken Green

    Great post.

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