I have the honor of writing this week’s edition of Word Nerd Wednesday on a word that I admit challenges me – discernment.
1. The quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure
2. An act of perceiving something
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.”
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he encourages them then to grow in their knowledge and insight (understanding), so that they can discern (comprehend or perceive) what is best, pure, and blameless. Then on judgement day, be found filled with the righteousness of Christ. But we know that only believers, who have received the gift of faith will be clothed in Christ’s righteous robes.
While the gift of faith that seals our eternity is a singular event, the rest of our days on this earth stretch out in untold numbers. Paul’s prayer for the Philippians, and for us, is a call to live out every one of these days with discernment. To determine what is right and wrong. To distinguish between truth and lie.
“My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”
Have you noticed over the last few weeks of Word Nerd Wednesday posts, we’ve been building toward the practice of discernment?
The Progression of Secular Discernment
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.
Understanding is knowing it’s a fruit because the seeds are on the inside.
Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Discernment is choosing instead to pair that tomato with some fresh mozzarella and basil and then drizzle it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Knowledge is knowing what the Bible says.
Understanding is knowing why it says what it says: Because God loves us, desires a relationship with us, and knows what is required to live in community with Him and others.
Wisdom is applying that knowledge and understanding to your life.
Discernment is choosing what’s best in any given situation because of the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom we gain from studying the Word. It is what keeps us from stumbling, gives us courage, and makes our sleep sweet. None of this is possible without a healthy fear of the Lord that enables us to call on the Holy Spirit.
Discernment Comes from the Spirit
“The person without the Spirit does not accept
the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness,
and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.”
1 Corinthians 2:14
In this verse from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he uses the Greek word anakrino (Strong’s G350) and it means to scrutinize, investigate, interrogate, examine, judge, or search.
Discernment enables us to choose between right and wrong. To judge between good and evil. To scrutinize the facts and come to correct conclusions. But we cannot do it alone. In John 14:26, Jesus promises us a helper to teach and remind us of all He said. That helper is the Holy Spirit. To be discerning, we must weigh everything against the Word by the power of the Spirit that lives within all believers. It is this fear of the Lord that invites the Spirit into our study. Doing so is what enables us to live all our days in delighted discernment.
Even more so, discernment keeps us from following false teachers who would lead us into the depravity Paul warns of in 2 Timothy 3. Paul goes on to complete this chapter with the familiar words regarding the power of Scripture:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for
so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16
Discernment guards our hearts against deception and helps our faith bear fruit but we can only have it by the Spirit.
Linking Up With
For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne Eller, Thought Provoking Thursday, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith and Fellowship Friday, Grace and Truth Friday, Good Morning Monday, Soul Survival, Monday Musings, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His Story, Woman to Woman Wednesday, Women With Intention Wednesday, Sitting Among Friends, Testimony Tuesday, Planting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday.