Christian women, particularly in Reformed circles, seem almost enamored with the whole matter of discernment. In some ways, that’s not completely good, since many bloggers and podcast personalities turn “discernment ministry” into an excuse for gossip and sometimes even slander. I’ve written about such problems several times in this blog, so I see no purpose in revisiting that theme today.
Instead, I’d like to address discernment in a positive light, affirming that the Lord indeed desires Christians to exercise discernment as we grow in Christ. Consider the apostle Paul’s prayer for the church in Philippi:
9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. ~~Philippians 1:9-11 (ESV)
Through Paul, the Holy Spirit makes it clear that He wants us to have abundant and increasing discernment. These verses actually explain that practicing discernment ensures purity and blamelessness when Christ returns. Obviously, that’s an admirable aspiration (and probably one we should think about more often). But I believe there’s an even deeper reason to develop Biblical discernment.
Verse 11 gives us a strong clue into that reason. True discernment fills us with the Lord’s righteousness, which in turn results in the praise and glory of God. Rather than being a prop to enhancing our own reputation of being able to identify false teachers and skillfully refute them, Biblical discernment enables us to direct people to Christ. It directs us to Him. He alone is the reason we desire to make distinctions between good and bad, false and true.
Before I come to God’s Word each morning, I pray that (among other things) the Holy Spirit would use it to develop discernment in me. But not so that I can be an acclaimed discernment blogger on par with Elizabeth Prata and Michelle Lesley. As lovely as it would be to be in their league, I don’t believe I ought to seek discernment for that selfish purpose.
Instead, when I pray that Scripture will teach me discernment, I regularly remember Christ’s words to the Samaritan woman at the well:
23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” ~~John 4:23-25 (ESV)
I’m learning to ask for discernment in order to worship Him as He wants to be worshiped. Understanding right from wrong and distinguishing between truth and error enables such purity of worship because we learn to love what God loves and hate what God hates. As we conform better to Him, He receives praise and glory.
I intend to continue blogging about discernment. I may even name names once in a while. But even then, dear sisters in Christ, I want to draw attention to the Lord Jesus Christ and not to any knowledge I might have about false teachers and wrong teaching. Unless He receives praise and glory, my attempts at discernment mean nothing.