Discernment is a word I didn’t use before I became a Christian. Now I see it as vitally important to my everyday life as a servant of God.
Discernment is defined as the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. It’s the act or process of exhibiting keen insight and good judgment; an act of perceiving something.
One fellow writer put it this way: discernment has to do with the ability to see and decide.
Not long ago someone gave me a book to read. It took me only minutes to discern what the author of this book wrote was contrary to the Bible and was heavily steeped in the New Age philosophy. I encouraged this brother in Christ to stay away from that book.
I was surprised by the reaction I received. Instead of thanking me for discerning error in the book and warning him, he viewed me as judgmental.
That has happened often as I grow in my ability to discern. When what I see in Christian books or what comes out of the mouths of false teachers in the body of Christ is contrary to the Word of God, I speak up and say so. Some people are offended by what I say. The reason I can see it quickly is because I spend so much time in the Word.
I remember reading awhile ago that the way an expert can distinguish counterfeit money is to spend lots of time studying the real thing. That’s how it is with discernment. If we stay in the Word, we can discern things that don’t line up with it.
Discernment is something I’ve learned over the years. When I was more immature, other Christians pointed out areas where I lacked discernment—where I was being deceived—in what I read and in what I was believing as truth. I’m grateful to these Christians. They also encouraged me to spend more time in God’s Word.
As a writer the verse the Lord has given me as a mission statement for my writing is Colossians 2:8:
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
I believe God has called me help others see that they don’t embrace the philosophy of this world but instead that they embrace Christ and all He stands for.
The key to doing this is discernment. I proclaim truth to others and encourage them to discover truth for themselves. I urge them to make biblical decisions and to grow in discernment.
Discernment is about deciding correctly. My goal is: to decide as God would have me to decide or as my Bible study teacher used to say “to be not a decision-maker but a decision-receiver.”
Here is a good prayer from Scripture about discernment. Will you join me in praying it?
I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes. (Psalm 119:125 NIV 1984)
God is delighted to answer that prayer.
To hear more about discernment, listen to my radio show “Hearts Set Free with Elaine” on Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 8:00am EST. Go to www.wtis1110.com and press “Listen Live.”