Keys To Discernment: Paul’s Salutation To The Colossians (Reboot)

As I explained two weeks ago, this Bible Study series on Colossians got interrupted in February when I had a compound fracture in my back. In order to bring everyone up to speed, I’ve decided to repeat the installments I’d written before continuing on. I may add a few comments that I overlooked when I first wrote them.

Gold Key

“Oh DebbieLynne, no!” you’re saying. “Paul’s opening verses in Colossians don’t really talk about discernment. Can’t you just skip them?”

To be truthful, sisters, I seriously considered skipping these introductory remarks Paul made. Like you, I’m eager to get into the meat of the epistle! But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that even these verses possess nuggets of doctrine that can help us discern sound teaching. Remember — true discernment comes through right doctrine.

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Unnecessary Complications To God’s Work

Even before my first engagement failed, I knew I had sabotaged the relationship with my anger, just as he had sabotaged it with his sin patterns. Understanding that I could only take responsibility for my end of the impasse, I moved (temporarily, I thought) back to California in hopes of finding the root cause of my anger.

I knew I wouldn’t have a successful marriage to that man as long as I couldn’t manage my anger. (The marriage would have failed anyway because he was a false convert, but at the time I wouldn’t acknowledge that fact.) I honestly believed I’d fix the relationship by fixing myself.

I wanted psychological counseling with Christian undertones.

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How Often Is Anger Really Righteous?

When Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple (Mark 11:15-17), He expressed righteous anger. Those money changers not only exploited the poor by charging exorbitant fees, but they desecrated the house of the God Who commanded His people not to steal. Jesus had good reason to demonstrate His anger against their corrupt practice!

That said, most of us frequently claim that our anger is righteous when deep down we know it’s tainted with selfishness. I’ve often deceived myself into thinking that I could call my violent temper tantrums “righteous indignation” instead of confessing my pride and lack of self-control.

Even on those rare occasions when our anger actually is righteous, expressing that anger usually doesn’t do a great deal to promote godliness.

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He Could Have Decimated The Entire System

Really, no one needs my opinion on the death of George Floyd. Nor does anyone need me to comment on the protests that have sprung up around the United States in response to his death. I suppose such a blog post would get plenty of views (and probably a good amount of comments), so I’m not doing myself any favors by deciding to keep my opinions to myself. Most bloggers know that addressing “hot topics” generate more readers.

The Word of God warns against needless controversies and the unnecessary expression of opinions. Chris Hohnholz and Richard Story of Voice Of Reason Radio did a sobering podcast this past weekend explaining the importance of holding our tongues during times like this. They appeal to a wide variety of Scriptures admonishing Christians to be circumspect with our words.

Their podcast prompted me to think about using my blog to remind women that we don’t always have to right the wrongs of our culture. Without argument, our nation (as well as other nations throughout the world) increasingly demonstrate intentional rebellion against the Most High God. But it may not follow that He calls us to avenge every injustice.

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Don’t Fear Looking At Your Sin

We live in a culture that tells us to love ourselves. Self-esteem is, according to almost everybody, an essential virtue — one that we must teach our children as soon as we possibly can. Even in evangelical circles, people frown upon those who speak too often about our wretchedness.

But can’t self-esteem frequently keep Christians from examining themselves periodically to see if we are truly in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5)? Can it cause us to think of ourselves more highly than we should (Romans 12:3)?

You and I definitely should ask ourselves these questions when we find ourselves committing the same sin habitually. Children of God at some point start to resemble the Father’s holiness (1 Peter 1:14-21, 1 John 3:4-10). Sadly, many people who claim to be Christians do persist in unrepentant sin, often rationalizing their rebellion and sometimes even believing that God approves of what they do. When we don’t see evidence of genuine repentance in our lives — or at least grief over our sin — we need to ask ourselves if we have really been born again.

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Twitter Food Fights And Servants Of Christ

Her grin caused her nose to crinkle as she declared, “I love a good fight!” Probably not the wisest comment to make while discipling eight women in a Tuesday morning Bible Study, but we all laughed along with her. We knew her well enough to know she indeed liked a lively debate and took a little pride in her argumentation skills.

At the time, I felt a bit liberated by her offhand remark. Of course, I would have been careful in making any similar proclamation, and I think I’d feel a twinge of conviction if I ever admitted such a thing.

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My Brothers In Christ And Intimate Friendship

Having never had a flesh and blood brother, I’m not completely sure how such relationships work. Do opposite sex siblings confide in each other at the depth that same sex siblings do?

Personally, I doubt it.

But even if natural brothers and sisters do share such intimacies, does it necessarily follow that God intends for brothers and sisters in Christ to have such closeness? Up front, I want you to know that I think that’s a very dangerous attitude to hold. And I want to explain from both Scripture and personal experience exactly why I object to equating spiritual sibling relationships with natural ones.

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What Paul’s Warning Didn’t Mean –And How We Know It Didn’t Mean That

According to ScriptureThe meaning of 1 Corinthians 1:10 seems quite obvious, doesn’t it?

10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. ~~1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)

Pretty straightforward, right? As a spokesman for the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Paul warned the Corinthian church against having divisions within its  members. He later described the church as a unified body with each member functioning in cooperation with all the other members (1 Corinthians 12:12-30). Such unity precludes criticizing each other, clearly.

Some use 1 Corinthians 1:10 to shame those who call out false teachers who appear to be genuine Christians. We, rather than the false teachers, receive accusations of causing division within the church, as if our discernment violates Continue reading

Before We Discern The Sins Of Others

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We all enjoy letting people think that we are “in the know,” don’t we? By billing ourselves as having the gift of discernment, we indeed can puff ourselves up…at least in our own eyes. But the same Bible that  commands us to call out false teachers and correct sinners also admonishes us to maintain an attitude of humility.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. ~~Galatians 6:1-5 (ESV)

When we have concerns about a person’s ministry and/or personal conduct, therefore, we must first examine ourselves. Why do we feel the necessity to call attention to Continue reading

Keys To Discernment: Paul’s Salutation To The Colossians

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“Oh DebbieLynne, no!” you’re saying. “Paul’s opening verses in Colossians don’t really talk about discernment. Can’t you just skip them?”

To be truthful, sisters, I seriously considered skipping these introductory remarks Paul made. Like you, I’m eager to get into the meat of the epistle! But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that even these verses possess nuggets of doctrine that can help us discern sound teaching. Remember — true discernment comes through Continue reading