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It occurs to me that much of the world is caught up in worldly things and so the way we begin to define “discernment” is right out of a dictionary and it means, “to judge well.” The problem being, many dictionaries will then elaborate, give you the second intended meaning. And so next in the dictionary we also have, 2. “(in Christian contexts) perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual guidance and understanding.”

Read that again, not judgement, but the absence of judgement. Hallelujah! Now that’s what I’m talking about. In a Christian context “discernment” means, perception in the absence of judgement…

I’ll spare you the links, but I can think of five “discernment ministries” that will probably be blogging in outrage about me and my crazy ideas shortly. However that is the truth, that is right out of the dictionary, and the fact that the dictionary can say “in a Christian context,” discernment means “perception in the absence of judgement,” indicates that Christian views, theology, creeds, have explored the word discernment enough to actually give it a Christian context.

Another way to say that is, IB’s words are not simply coming out of left field, the result of having falling asleep after eating too much pizza. There is genuine precedence here, wisdom, established truth discussed long before I was even born.

Another version of the dictionary gives us a simple definition of “discernment” I like even better, “possessing wisdom not of myself.” 

Bingo. Now that one is a double edged sword and as such, absolutely delicious. “Not of myself,”  is vital, critical here. Over and over and over again, for a lifetime really, I have practiced fine tuning my discernment. I can tell you with complete certainty that when it involves judgement, condemnation, or fear, it is flat out “of myself,” and therefore not discernment.

How do I know when I am practicing discernment for real? It is, “not of myself.” It is completely devoid of judgement, condemnation, or fear. It is wisdom, insight,  awareness above and beyond what I myself could know. Supernatural. Most of the time it is vaguely unsettling, uncomfortable, and not quite what I would have chosen or assumed myself.

I can’t tell you how many times in my life I have thought I knew what I was doing and the Lord has said, Now hold up. I know what this looks like, feels like, seems like, however….

That is discernment, that is, “wisdom not of myself.” That is a willingness to realize I see through the glass darkly and to trust in the One who holds the whole picture in His hands. It takes a whole lot of humility and a willingness to listen. You have to know yourself. You have to be able to discern the difference between, “of myself” and, “not of myself. “

One more time, in a Christian context, discernment is, “perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual guidance and understanding.”

Discernment is not, holding others in judgement, hunting down heretics, or running about condemning false teachers. In fact, those activities show a decided lack of discernment.

Well now. That settles that. You’re welcome.


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