(A few friends and I are reading this book together. Each week we are reading one chapter. On Fridays, I am posting my comments, then giving them the opportunity to add their thoughts as well. If you would like to join us or simply find out more about the book, you can read about it here.)
In chapter 3, the author went about the task of definining the term "discernment." Here is what stood out to me:
- Throughout the chapter he pointed out that at the root of discernment is knowledge of God's Word. Without that root, one cannot have discernment. In some ways, it seems obvious to me, but I am glad for His emphasis on the Word of God.
- Similarly, he noted that few people "understand that to know God's will we must first know God's truth." This is needed- people throw around the phrase "God's will" yet they often do things directly contrary to God's will. We must live and teach that God's will must align with His Word.
- He made the case that wisdom is knowledge with a moral and ethical dimension to it. I appreciated this- it helped me separate them in my mind. In the same way, showing that discernment is the application of wisdom to a real-life situation helped me delineate those two.
- "Discernment is thinking in black-and-white terms, drawing clear lines between what is truth and error, what is good and evil." (Page 59) Being able to rightly discern is so important in our world because so much is seen as gray and so many people look down on those who will dare to speak out the truth of God's word and call things white or black.
- I think he defined the word really well: "Discernment is the skill of understanding and applying God's Word with the purpose of separating truth from error and right from wrong." (Page 60)
- The illustration that the skill of discernment is like reading or public speaking (learned) and not breathing or chewing (inherent) was helpful to me.
- I think John mentioned something about this concerning the last chapter, but it stood out to me here. The author said, "We can only worship and glorify God on the basis of what we know of him." The older I get, the more I am realizing that people are basing their view of God not on what is revealed in His Word, but from something/someone else. We both say we are worshiping God, but there is such a difference in our understanding because there we have learned from different sources. This compels me to study His Word so I can know, worship, and glorify Him correctly.
- He explained that God's Word helps the light appear lighter and the dark appear darker. This captured it for me. A familiarity with God's Word will allow us to point out why something is right or wrong instead of just having an intuition that it is the case.
- For awhile, I was failing to understand the difference he was making between right/wrong and truth/error. I finally got it that truth/error referenced doctrine (what we believe) while right/wrong referenced the practical application (how we live).
- "Any method [of discernment] that points anywhere but Scripture implicitly points away from Scripture." (Page 68) This helped me with another quote I heard recently: "A man with an experience is not at the mercy of a man with an opinion." I realize now why this quote bothered me: it is putting too much value on experience. In some instances, this quote could be correct (experience with money as opposed to a mere opinion), but since the quote is not always correct, I find it misleading.
- He again emphasized that discernment is work. It takes time and effort. Too often I want the easy way- I want a "proof text" instead of rolling up my sleeves and doing the work to discern the mind of God based on the principles He has put in His Word. May we be men who embrace the challenge and not shy away from it!
I've had my say, what say you?