The proper handling of discernment


“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:3

This scripture gives us the progression of the Christian walk for a healthy believer. We begin with faith in Jesus. We give up our own opinions and we agree with His assessments and solutions to situations. Faith releases in us the character of God – a goodness inherent in His being.

As we serve Him over time and read His word and follow Him, our knowledge increases. We know more about what He requires. The more we know about Him, the more holiness we see.

It is at this point that we begin to see inequities around us.  They were there before but we didn’t see them because our focus was strictly on Jesus and we were engulfed in gratefulness for His blood. Suddenly seeing these inequities makes us uncomfortable and sometimes, impatient. We see that there are things in others around us that need to change or so we surmise from our “knowledge”.

When we see things not quite perfected, we have a tendency to judge and criticize, especially if these things are making us uncomfortable. It is at this point that we are in danger of making mistakes due to our “knowledge”.

That’s why the next character development on Peter’s list is self-control. We need the Spirit to check us at this point so that we don’t make decisions based on judgement and self interest and so we don’t begin to take responsibility for things that are not ours to take.

Oswald Chambers says it this way:

“If we are not heedful and pay no attention to the way the Spirit of God works in us, we will become spiritual hypocrites. We see where other people are failing, and then we take our discernment and turn it into comments of ridicule and criticism, instead of turning it into intercession on their behalf. One of the most subtle and illusive burdens God ever places on us as saints is this burden of discernment concerning others. He gives us discernment so that we may accept the responsibility for those souls before Him and form the mind of Christ about them. We should intercede in accordance with what God says he will give us, namely ‘life for those who commit sin not leading to death'”.

If we do not submit to self-control, we will pop out of the “glory pipeline” before we arrive at agape love and the knowledge we have obtained will not be effective and productive in our lives.

Before we pat ourselves on the back for our wisdom in seeing faults, let’s dig the deeper wells of brotherly kindness and love with the shovels of self-control and perseverance and intercession.

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