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Why do we lack discernment?
- Jacob Ninan
It is just as important to grow in discernment as it is to grow in love (Php.1:9), because 'love' without discernment can be quite disastrous. Discernment is a mark of maturity (He.5:14). It was one of the things Solomon asked of God (1Ki.3:9). I am not talking about the discerning of spirits which all may not have, but an ability to distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil. All of us need to have this and grow in it. We all have some level of discernment, because it is a part of our conscience. We can dull this conscience by constantly neglecting it, or kill it to lesser or greater extent by going against it. It is only by exercising our spiritual senses that we can grow in discernment (He.5:14).
So why do we lack discernment? Le me put up a few suggestions to think about.
Perhaps we don't have sufficient reverence for the Lord and His commandments. If we had, we would naturally desire to be more and more pleasing to Him, keep His commandments more diligently and avoid things that are displeasing in His eyes (Ps.25:14;111:10). If we are on that path of life, we would be seeking more and more discernment! It is possible that we have emphasised the grace of God towards us so much that we have missed this aspect of living before Him?
The devil misuses Scripture to lead us astray. One example is, "Judge not" (Mt.7:1). We can see from the context that Jesus was not talking about discernment but about condemning others or looking down on them. In another place Jesus mentioned the need for judging with righteousness (Jn.7:24). This is about discerning the truth, not being fooled by outward appearances. When Jesus said, "Judge not," He did not mean, "Discern not!" We do need to discern between right and wrong even as we observe what people do and what is happening in the world.
Another way the devil fools us is by reminding us when we see something wrong, either in the way some people are doing things or the way things are going on around us, that we ourselves have many faults. Of course we do, all of us (Jas.3:2). The devil tells us that we have beams in our eyes, and we shouldn't be looking at specks in someone else's eyes! But that doesn't mean that we should agree that the wrong that we see is all right. It means that we shouldn't be quick to judge others, and also that our judgment should be mixed with humility and mercy. If we fall for this trick of the devil we would lose our own fear for the wrong we have seen, make ourselves more tolerant towards sin in general, and perhaps end up inching towards that wrong ourselves. Have you noticed that when we live among increasing rates of divorce our own attitude towards divorce cools down?
Isn't it good to have an increasingly clear opinion about what is right and wrong, good and evil, in order that we may keep ourselves to be pleasing to the Lord? Or is it sin to have an opinion? Let us not whitewash over the wrong and evil we see and imagine we have love.