“If I go to the grocery store, I can usually distinguish between the ripe, ready-to-eat fruit from the overripe and time-to-throw-it-in-the-garbage-can fruit.
Take me to a used car lot, and I have a harder time determining what’s a good ride and what’s a worn-out set of wheels.
Set two people in front of me who are considering marriage, and after a couple hours and a few pointed questions I can usually tell if their relationship is rocky road or firm foundation.
Whether it’s fruit, cars, or relationships, the ability to be discerning is not only helpful, but it is often life-saving. And that was the message of Solomon to his son in Proverbs 2.
Seek discernment, the sage told the son. Be perceptive, discriminating, comprehending, and alert — and then act on what you see and discover to be true and right.
Now discernment is hard work. It takes effort and energy, time, practice (which generally includes at least a few occasions of failure), and constant vigilance. It’s hard. But it’s always worth being discerning. In a series of almost proverbial statements, Solomon instructs his son on the value of cultivating discernment —
- It will keep you from perverse talking and perverse talkers (vv. 11-12)
- It will keep you from perverse living (vv. 13-14) — it will enable you to evaluate the cost of what you are doing so you don’t end up in the wrong place with the wrong people at the wrong time
- It will keep you from perverse thinking and perverse thinkers (v. 15) — little is more difficult than learning the discipline of thinking rightly and truly about yourself, your circumstances and God. Discernment will keep you off the crooked path of unrighteous thinking.
- It will keep you from perverse companions (vv. 16-19; cf. also chs. 5-7) — lack of discernment will make sin seem right (or at least not so terribly wrong), deluding and confusing you about the end of ungodly relationships. Discernment will enable you to see that unrighteous relationships lead only to death (vv. 18-19). And discernment will stimulate you to forsake such perversity.
Said another way, discernment is the pathway to good (i.e., godly) living. The hard labor of attentiveness and discernment yields a life of peace and joy.
As Tim Challies noted,
When discernment is attacked and destroyed, a flood of opportunistic false teaching is waiting to attack through the weakened defenses. Nobody dies from lack of discernment or by not believing in discernment. Rather, a lack of discernment leaves people to wither under the attack of false doctrine. A lack of discernment leaves Christians unable to protect themselves and others, and allows sin to flood in.
Do you have discernment
February 11, 2010 by strengthenedbygrace