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.)
Chapter 7: The Gift of Discernment
- While a battle rages over the understanding of spiritual gifts, the author points out that people on both sides of the issue will agree that in our day God gives a gift of discernment (Page 127). The author then discusses that gift. Here are my thoughts:
- Using the story of his youth group and the ball of yarn, he illustrated the strength that the spiritual gifts should give to a local church. I was reminded that a spiritual gift is not to help the "possessor" only (the way he said it: they are not "self-serving" [Page 126]), but is to help and strengthen the believers around him. Later he stated, "The variety is not meant to disrupt the church but to unify it through diversity." (Page 125) It seems to me that individuality or variety in our culture is used more to make a person stand out from the crown, not to help unify the crowd. I appreciated this explanation of the relationship between variety and unity.
- He takes the position that the list of the gifts of the Spirit in Scripture is not exhaustive, but representative. I did not have/take the time to examine this by the Word. If any of you had time, I would appreciate your thoughts.
- I appreciated his emphasis on the fact that God is not looking for us to serve in our area of "expertise" (our spiritual gift) only. We are not to neglect other areas of service just because it is not our spiritual gift.
- After my rant a few chapters back, did you catch the reference to Acts 17:11? I agree with one of his correlating statements: "In doing this [examining the Scriptures] they modeled the task of all believers." (Page 129) That is the task of believers. However, the ones setting the example were not yet believers. Mini-rant over.
- His statement following the one above is great: "Christians are ultimately responsible for what they choose to believe, no matter whether or not they have been gifted with the spiritual gift of discernment." (Page 129)
- He is careful to point out that if the Spirit gifts someone with discernment, that individual then has a responsibility to use it. It is not a gift like a Christmas sweater from Aunt Mabel that a believer can choose to use or not.
- "Deeds, no matter how extraordinary and how beneficial they appear, must be examined and compared to the Word of God." (Page 130) This is especially needful because so many people rely on experience or pragmatism to evaluate things. I don't know how it is in Charlotte or Iqaluit, but I know it is quite common in Moldova. (This is a little off the topic, but a believer here told us that she knew she was to marry her husband because she had a dream of Jesus. In the dream Jesus told her to marry the man that was interested in her, so she did. I couldn't believe it when I heard it.)
- One of the thoughts that has often come to my mind reading this book is that we need discernment because of who our enemy is. Satan's biggest weapon is deception. He wants us to view right as wrong and wrong as right. He wants dangerous things to appear healthy. Having discernment will allow me to see God's true perspective about things, and see through how Satan wants wants things to appear.
- I had not thought before that God might give a believer a particular gift because of a particular need in his church at that time. It is a simple thought- why would God give a gift that is essentially not needed?
- Earlier in the chapter, he spoke against simply looking to a person's personality to determine a spiritual gift. When discussing how to find how a person is gifted, he talked about what makes him feel passionate. I could not see how he distinguished between a person's natural personality and a person's natural or God-given passion. Maybe one of you caught something I didn't.
- I liked his suggestion that believers at least try serving in different ways in the church. It made me think of what I could do to try to create an environment in which people can learn how to minister in different ways without dumping on them the entire responsibility if they do not continue.
- In my mind, I thought a spiritual gift was a person's "til death do them part." He pointed out that the Bible doesn't state that nor does it say a person has just one, nor does it say that all spiritual gifts are given at moment of salvation. Again, I have not looked at the Scripture passages concerning this yet, but I was intrigued by his statements.
- Since we fit in the description of a time in which "Christianity is considered acceptable in society," (Page 133) the gift of discernment is greatly needed today!
- Evangelism= offensive gift to take ground; discernment= defensive gift to keep ground.
- While discussion how the gift of discernment may be used, he said, "Many Christians, and especially young Christians, confuse carnality for godliness, man-made rules for God-ordained holiness." (Page 135) Again, I agree with this assessment- one can readily see these two "ditches" into which many fall.
- "Christians with the gift of discernment should place particular emphasis on protecting the young and the immature believers." (Page 136) The four of us who are reading this together are all church-planters- one is working at it now, the other three will be soon. Lord-willing, we will be dealing with many young believers in the near future. It will be important for us to be able to discern and to help these young believers learn to as well.
I've had my say, what say you?