Is It Discernment or Judging?

There is a Persian proverb that sounds more like a tongue twister than sound advice.

He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool; shun him.
He who knows not, and knows that he knows not is a child; teach him.
He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep; wake him
He who knows and knows that he knows, is wise; follow him.

Each person described here can probably be found on every campus, in any business, in every vocation, among all neighborhoods, and within every church. They don't wear badges and they don't introduce themselves accordingly. It is doubtful that you will meet someone and they will introduce themselves saying, "Hi, I am Bob. I'm a fool."  Even if one knew that about himself, it is highly unlikely that they would want anyone else to know such, much less discover the truth. 

So the question is, how in the world are we to know whom to shun, to teach, to awaken, or to follow?  Discernment is the answer.  What is discernment, you may ask? Discernment is the ability to detect or evaluate the character of someone or some situation. It is the ability to see beneath the surface and correctly assess its quality. In everyday terms, it is the skill to "size up" the situation correctly.

Someone would immediately say, "Isn't that judging and aren't we told not to judge? After all, wasn't it Jesus that told us to not judge?"   I am sure you've heard that argument before, and perhaps have used it yourself.  Yet all of us make daily judgments about people. We do it almost unconsciously when we look for a "good" doctor or a "dependable" babysitter. In business, friend or marriage people look for someone they can trust, which means that some others can not be trusted.

I believe that Jesus was telling believers that they are not to judge in the sense of condemning another person to others with harshness and finality.  Clearly, the Apostle Paul instructed us that our speech should always be seasoned with salt and only for the edification of others. However, equally we are called... no, commanded to discern between right and wrong and good and evil. 

When God told Solomon to make a wish and it would be granted, the king responded: 

"...give Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people to discern between good and evil."(I Kings 3:9)

Paul informs us that discernment is one characteristic that is found in the believer who is genuinely Spirit-filled.  Hebrews 5:14 calls it a mark of maturity.  Discernment is seeing things through divine lenses.

Then the question comes, "How do you put on the lenses of divine viewpoint...divine discernment?"  Well, the author of Hebrews tells us how to be "fitted" for the divine lenses. For in chapter 5:14 he declares, "But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil." The author of Hebrews instructs us that the Divine Optometrist "fits" us with divine discernment in proportion to our acquiring and growing in our understanding of God's Word.  Clearly, he makes a case that a shallow understanding of God's Word will not "fit" us with the discerning lenses of God's wisdom. 

Just as special forces and soldiers put on their night vision goggles that enables them to see  through the darkness, so too are we are able to discern  right and wrong in a dark world as we put on the divine goggles of God's truth from His Word.  The more of God's truth we learn and understand, the better our divine goggles are focused to discern between good and evil. 

Let me challenge you to have that quiet time with the Lord daily. Equally, make that quiet time a significant time of reading God's Word and asking God to illuminate you to its practical application for you. Christian Johnson said it best, "A Bible that's falling apart probably belongs to someone who isn't."