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Discernment – 2016-12-07

I was meditating on Philippians 1:9-10 this morning: “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

“that our love would abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment…”

as I thought about this, I was meditating on discernment and contemplating at what point does discernment become critical?

I looked up those 2 words in the thesaurus:
critical = belittling, demanding, condemning, fault-finding, disapproving, derogatory, discerning, discriminating, disparaging, hypercritical, mocking, nagging, sarcastic….

discern = perceptive, knowing, insightful, astute, critical, sensitive, subtle, wise

I can recognize or discern another person’s strengths and weaknesses so as to adjust my expectations, but if I do so without love, does that not look more like criticism than discernment?

Now look at the Biblical definition of love:
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 1 Corinthians 13

While a discerning spirit is an asset, a critical spirit is a liability… think back to the last time you were harshly criticized:, was that reflective more of their heart than yours?

I read several quotes on this yesterday, two similarly quotes:
“I stopped explaining myself when I realized people only understand from their level of perception.”

“Never waste your time trying to explain who you are to people who are committed to misunderstanding you.”

Sometimes you will never be able to clarify the situation, there is a missing ingredient – love.

Love is in the ingredient that provides clarity and completes our knowledge and our discernment. Love makes knowledge and discernment useful tools instead of weapons. Love is not others’ responsibility, it is our own, as followers of Christ.

What we hold in our heart, often springs out of our mouth. Will those words be Critical words, designed to manipulate and control? Or will those words be discerning, spoken in love?

The filter by which we live life, hear others, speak, discern, judge, love, etc.. is our heart. When that is out of balance, when a loving, gracious spirit is absent, few of the other aspects of our live will be in balance, nor will we be accurately able to discern the times, intent, or situation.

I was thinking back to when I got my eyes checked in Jr. High – when I first put on glasses, I was amazed… I had no idea what I was missing! Like our glasses, or a camera lens, we must clean our filter – our own way of looking at the world, to be able to clearly focus on the real picture… otherwise we are really only focused on the smudges on our lens that prevent us from seeing the whole picture.

That corrective lens might be present in some areas, and with some people in our lives, but shattered, or not in use with others.

Oh, to clean my vision before discerning, and certainly before speaking so I know if I am seeing their heart, or my own.

Deeper Still:
how beautifully David expressed it, in Psalm 51
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.

“But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.” 1 Corinthians 1
“A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness” Proverbs 15:1-2

23 Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth,
And put perverse lips far from you.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead,
And your eyelids look right before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
Remove your foot from evil.
Proverbs 4