* Discernment, discern is to discover, recognize
In these verses Solomon summarizes that life involves both risk and opportunity. Because life has no guarantees, we must be prepared. “Give generously” because life has opportunities and we must seize them. Solomon does not support a stingy, despairing attitude. Just because life is uncertain does not mean we should do nothing. We need a spirit of trust and adventure, facing life’s risks and opportunities with God-directed enthusiasm and faith. (NLT)
Ecclesiastes 11:1-5 – Give generously, for your gifts will return to you later. Divide your gifts among many, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead.
When the clouds are heavy, the rains come down. When a tree falls, whether south or north, there it lies. If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done. God’s ways are as hard to discern as the pathways of the wind, and as mysterious as a tiny baby being formed in a mother’s womb.
* What discernment is
Paul prayed that the Philippian believers would have the ability to differentiate between right and wrong, good and bad, vital and trivial. We ought to pray for moral discernment so we can maintain our Christian morals and values. (NLT)
Philippians 1:10 – For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until Christ returns.
* Wisdom means “practical discernment.” It begins with respect for God, leads to right living, and results in increased ability to tell right from wrong. God is willing to give us this wisdom, but we will be unable to receive it if our goals are self-centered instead of God-centered. To learn God’s will, we need to read his Word and ask him to show us how to obey it. Then we must do what he tells us. (NLT)
James 1:5 – If you need wisdom—if you want to know what God wants you to do—ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent you asking.
* Discernment vs. negativism
Jesus’ statement, “Stop judging,” is against the kind of hypocritical, judgmental attitude that tears others down in order to build oneself up. It is not a blanket statement to overlook wrong behavior of others but a call to be discerning rather than negative. Jesus said to expose false prophets, and Paul taught that we should exercise church discipline and trust God to be the final Judge. (NLT)
Matthew 7:1-5 – [Jesus said] “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. For others will treat you as you treat them. Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye, when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
* Discernment in teaching
Swine were unclean animals according to God’s law. Anyone who touched an unclean animal became “ceremonially unclean” and could not go to the Temple to worship until the uncleanness was removed. Jesus says that we should not entrust holy teachings to unholy or unclean people. It is futile to try to teach holy concepts to people who don’t want to listen and will only tear apart what we say. We should not stop giving God’s Word to unbelievers, but we should be wise and discerning in our witnessing, so that we will not be wasting our time. (NLT)
Matthew 7:6 – [Jesus said] “Don’t give what is holy to unholy people. Don’t give pearls to swine! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.”
* To ask God for the right things
The children in Jesus’ example asked their father for bread and fish—good and necessary items. If the children had asked for a poisonous snake, would the wise father have granted the request? Sometimes God knows we are praying for “snakes” and does not give us what we ask for, even though we persist in our prayers. As we learn to know God better as a loving Father, we learn to ask for what is good for us, and then he grants it. (NLT)
Matthew 7:9-10 – [Jesus said] “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not!
* Discernment essential for spiritual growth
In order to grow from infant Christians to mature Christians, we must learn discernment. We must train our conscience, our senses, our mind, and our body to distinguish good from evil. Can you recognize temptation before it traps you? Can you tell the difference between a correct use of Scripture and a mistaken one? (NLT)
Hebrews 5:12-14 – You have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things a beginner must learn about the Scriptures. You are like babies who drink only milk and cannot eat solid food. And a person who is living on milk isn’t very far along in the Christian life and doesn’t know much about doing what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who have trained themselves to recognize the difference between right and wrong and then do what is right.
* Help us discern what is truly from God
Anyone can claim to speak for God, and the world is full of false teachers. Paul gives us a test to help us discern whether or not a messenger is really from God. Does he or she confess Christ as Lord? Don’t naively accept the words of all who claim to speak for God; test their credentials by finding out what they teach about Christ. (NLT)
1 Corinthians 12:3 – So I want you to know how to discern what is truly from God: No one speaking by the Spirit of God can curse Jesus, and no one is able to say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
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