Yes, I’ve been beating this drum about the problems with discernment ministries (particularly online discernment ministries) for over two years now, and some of my posts pretty much say they same things. In truth, I write most of these articles in an attempt to clarify my own thoughts on the matter. If I’m selfish for taking you along for the ride, please pray that the Lord would convict me.
The advantage of struggling with this publicly is that you can also start thinking through the issue of discernment. Such thinking takes effort, I realize, and it may even require the humility to admit having it wrong. All of us need to do the pride killing work of considering the possibility that we’ve flattened discernment out to make it less than the Bible shows it to be.
For quite some time, the Christian blogosphere has conditioned us to equate discernment with calling out false teachers. And maybe identify false teaching. Period. And that, my friends, is precisely where we make our mistake.
A week or so ago, my husband showed me a passage from Proverbs in the New American Standard Bible that wonderfully highlights what discernment is and how we cultivate it.
My son, if you will receive my words
And treasure my commandments within you,
2 Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
Incline your heart to understanding;
3 For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
4 If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will discern the fear of the Lord
And discover the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
8 Guarding the paths of justice,
And He preserves the way of His godly ones.
9 Then you will discern righteousness and justice
And equity and every good course. ~~Proverbs 2:1-9 (NASB)
Gee, folks, nothing here about calling out false teachers. Actually, it appears that Solomon primarily associates discernment with knowing God, fearing Him and walking uprightly before Him. In essence, discernment has more to do with godly wisdom than with exposing false teachers.
Don’t misunderstand me: within godly wisdom there’s a time and place for standing against false teachers. Sometimes that’s an inescapable necessity, especially in our day and age.
But have you thought about the underlying reason that false teachers have so much influence in the first place? Clearly, it happens because people don’t study and properly apply God’s Word. We rely on discernment bloggers (who may or may not really have good discernment) to tell us who the bad guys are rather than studying Scripture itself to know the Lord.
Biblical discernment offers so much more than Christian celebrity gossip and a way to feel self-righteous. Please join me in rethinking discernment.