Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Godly Discernment or Judgmental Spirit?

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brothers’ eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me remove the speck from your eye”; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)
Jesus teaches us not to be judgmental, that is, not to be prejudiced and condemning. Everything we do and say needs to be done and said in love, for God is love (1 John 4:8). This does not mean, however, that we are not supposed to be discerning. We see this in Matthew 7:6:
Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.
To obey this directive, we need to be able to discern what is holy and what are the pearls. We must also be able to discern what are the dogs and the swine. We also need to be able to discern the false prophets:
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. (Matthew 7:15-17)
In order to discern the false prophets, we must be able to discern their fruit, whether it be good or bad — whether it comes from the Tree of Life or from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

There is even a spiritual gift of discernment given by the Holy Spirit. It is the “discernment of spirits” (1 Corinthians 12:10), the ability to know whether something originates from God, from satan, or simply from the heart of man. The Greek word for “discernment” is diakrino and comes from the word for “judge” (krino) in Matthew 7:1.

God is light, God is love, God is life. His way will always be about those things which shed light, express love and promote life. When we have God at work in us, we have light, love and life at work in us. Because of light, we have the ability to discern. Because of love, we do not condemn. The judgment of discernment promotes life; the judgment of condemnation brings death.

We must always practice discernment, and there are even times when we must declare what we have discerned, but it is never right for us to condemn anyone. Before we seek to discern anything else, we must first discern our own heart. For how can we help someone with a tiny speck in their eye if we have a large plank hanging out of our own? But when our heart is clear, and operating in the light, love and life of God, then we will be able to see, discern and be of help.

It is always appropriate for us to discern, but it is never right for us to condemn. Godly discernment sheds light, shows love and promotes life.



The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth
Keys to the Kingdom of God
in the Gospel of Matthew

by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.