Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Discernment

Daniel Martin


Discernment and boldness are two things that God, want’s to develop in each of us. Both of them need to be developed equally. We must obtain a good measure of both as Christians to be productive in God’s work. We can all conjure up images of people who are overly bold and don’t have a good level of discernment. The Old Testament is full of people who make choices as such.  Everyone knows at least one person who fires off like loose cannon with careless words and actions. Hopefully you who are reading this don’t have that struggle. If you suffer from being “gung hoe” with poor judgement; you need to develop a great deal of patience in life to overcome it. Having a poor discernment won’t keep you from taking action; but, it might be a wasted effort. When you have a word for a Christian brother or sister, who is doing wrong and needs correction; how you say what needs to be said, is almost as important as what you say. We can even wound and injure people by being careless about doing good things for others.
 Thoughtfulness and discernment are the opposite of carelessness. Being thoughtful doesn’t take allot of time, but, it does take more time and patience than many are willing to go through! There is something we must surrender when we consider our ways in light of Gods desires. We must give up the right, to be “right”, and surrender, however difficult it may be, to the bigger picture (what God has in mind).  When we are brash and hasty in our decision making, we sacrifice the larger and more important picture of things on the altar of personal gratification. Later, we face regret, as we visit the same questions about why our relationships suffer. 
Without wisdom, the goals we aim for may not be realized by our attempts. Proper discernment is essential to healthy relationships, and realized goals. But it raises a question: “how do I have good discernment?” First of all, scripture gives us a few very direct verses. James 1:6-8 says, “6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” So we must ask God for wisdom, and believe that He will give it. I really like this verse because it comes with a promise. God gives wisdom to everyone; no matter how foolish they are; if they ask God! This verse also leaves an opening for a question. How often should we ask God for wisdom? I would say, as often as you need wisdom. Which for me is quite a bit.
 God is not trying to hide answers and directions from us. He wants to be the source for them since he created the universe. His is the roadmap we have to give our attention to. God is a lot like a good parent, who wants us to build our trust in Him. He is always in the right because He is the source of our life. In the beginning of 2 Chronicles, God was pleased with Solomon being the king. He told him that he was allowed to have anything he asked God for. Solomon asked for wisdom. He knew that being a king was impossible without Gods direction and help. Truly it was a wise decision. The book of proverbs is full of wisdom that God gave to Solomon as testimony. It is probably my favorite book in the Bible and I am always finding new things in it. One of the constant themes of proverbs is being thoughtful about your actions. The book begs us to consider your ways in light of what God thinks.
 Also a huge theme of proverbs is seeking wise counsel. There should be no shame in trying to find answers where we don’t have them. As the church, we have a responsibility to open and not condescending to people who ask. As mature believers, we must admit that weren’t born wise. There were surly other believers who were a key part of our maturity. I know in my life it was there wisdom and patience that made me who I am today.
   What is the other key ingredient? Patience! I have learned by experience that there is almost nothing in life worth having, that doesn’t require time, perseverance, longsuffering, and even temperament. If we don’t have the ability to see longsuffering as a necessity for realizing God’s good goals; we will be rounding the same corner of stunted Christian growth over and over.
 Patience is something that you develop over time. You can’t run a marathon, without rigorous training, no matter how genetically disposed you are to running.  1 Corinthians 9:24-27, “24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” If you want to develop patience you can’t take the easy way out.
 So if you keep finding yourself in regret of your choices you have made. Don’t be hard on yourself, but take a step back and consider your ways. If you don’t know what to do, ask God. If things are still fogy, go seek out wise counsel. Finally; when you know the right direction to go; be persistent in that direction. Good skills and attitudes take time to acquire. If you have a bad habit, it will take a good amount of time to build a decent one in its place. However all of the wisdom in the world means nothing, if it sits on the shelf. That is the topic of part 2. Boldness.