Discernment

I believe that we live in an era where greater (godly) wisdom and discernment are needed for pretty much everyone – especially those of us who are followers of Jesus.

One thing that continues to mystify me is this: why do we let ourselves get caught up in unwise arguments and conversations? I’m not saying that we should avoid certain topics of conversation; rather, I’m emphasizing that we tend to get “caught up” in them and somehow lose our way.

For instance, when I observe that somebody has strong feelings about a topic, yet seems unwilling to consider to a different point of view, then I listen politely for a time, and find a way to gently exit the conversation – especially if the person seems to be getting heated or upset.

My view is this: Why linger in such an environment? I don’t see how such a situation can resolve itself in a healthy way for either person. Instead, I look to the Bible for a good example about how to behave when conversations get difficult. The best Person I’ve found so far is Jesus, and here’s what I’ve noticed about how He – generally speaking – dealt with tough conversations **:

  • He went about His business. He knew what He was called to do, and – with some exceptions – did not proactively seek out the difficult conversations (even His by-the-well chat with the Samaritan woman was not difficult for Him, because He saw the openness of her heart and engaged with her accordingly). For example, when Jesus was being bothered by the Pharisees, most of the time they were following Him and trying to start something with Him – not the other way around. Perhaps we should do likewise – focusing on the purpose God has called us to, rather than getting distracted by those who wish us harm!
  • He usually deescalated the situation, and often (but not always) diffused challenging conversations by appealing to clear thinking and reason. Consider the time when the Pharisees accused Him of casting out demons by demonic powers; His reply was not emotional, but rather rational, essentially asking them: “How can the devil be fighting against himself? More importantly, why would he do this?” Even His enemies could see the wisdom and logic behind such an approach, and Jesus left them to ponder the implications of the truth He had shared – rather than arguing with them.
  • When others got angry with Him, He got quiet (and sometimes – but not always – exited the scene). Do you remember when the Lord cast out the evil spirits from the demoniac in the tombs? Remember how the evil spirits went into the pigs, who then clambered down the hill and plunged to their deaths in the water below? Well, instead of rejoicing over the fact that the man was healed from his debilitating affliction, the people instead focused on the loss of their income, and set their minds on harming Jesus. However, rather than defending Himself and His actions, Jesus simply exited (as it was not yet time for Him to die and be resurrected). The Lord recognized that the people were upset and angry, and that in such a condition, they were no longer receptive to hearing a different point of view – even if it was the truth. While Jesus was right, He instead chose to discreetly exit stage left.

My key point here is that Jesus modeled a life built on wisdom and discernment, and we should seek to do the same! While we certainly should be concerned about what is happening in our present age, we often veer off into arguments that give us a terrible witness before the watching world. Instead, perhaps we ought to take a page out of Jesus’s Book (the Bible! 😉) and first ask the Holy Spirit the following: how do You want me to handle this question or conversation? And should I respond with reason, seek to de-escalate the situation, or simply leave?

The answer will likely be different for each person, but perhaps our first response should be to prayerfully seek God’s will (especially on social media!) before we respond with our emotions.

After all, the battle is not ours – it’s the Lord’s. ✝️

** These are selected incidents from the life of Christ (rather than an exhaustive list) found in the Bible, and are not hard and fast rules for every situation and conversation. Always pray first and seek confirmation in the truth of God’s Word when you are faced with challenging conversations, before venturing out on your own. You’ll be grateful that you did! 💛

2 thoughts on “Discernment

    1. God bless you too, Lee! If I’ve learned this “advice” at all, it’s because I too have uttered an ill-timed word from time to time and have suffered the consequences. It’s simply not worth all of the hassle, in my opinion!

      Thankfully, our mistakes of the past can be instructive. God is good in that way!

      Liked by 1 person

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