Friday, August 27, 2010

Discerning with Wisdom

But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; (1 Thessalonians 5:21 NAS)

DiscernmentIf a business has a product that is constantly under attack, it is likely because it has grown to become a threat to another, especially a competitor. Nick A. James, author of article at on ‘Clues for Discerning the Integrity of a Product Critic’ suggests three ways to analyze the integrity of a critic or skeptic.

First, find out if the feedback from the critic is all negative. If it is, it is probably a sham because even if we dislike something, there is bound to be some good in it and not all bad. Second, a bad product cannot stay popular for long and is unlikely to get any positive feedback from others. Third, if it is a scam, there would probably be some visible tell tale signs indicating ill intent, such as to wreck havoc. One of the most common tell tale signs can be seen in the effort the critic is making to undermine the product’s reputation.

Just as a product can be analyzed to determine whether what a critic says is true, we can also use this same approach to discern the truth about our beliefs. In Mark 14:55-59, we read the account of how the chief priests and the council kept on trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death. Many were giving false testimony against Him, but their testimony was not consistent. Some stood up and began to give false testimony against Him, saying, “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.’” Not even in this respect was their testimony consistent.

Jesus, during the trial, was accused by many false witnesses bearing testimony of untruth. These accusations were all negative, which means they were all dishonest claims—a sham—to put Jesus to death (Mark 14:55). There is no chance anyone can hate everything about our Lord, unless he is of the devil or is totally misled (John 8:44; 1 Corinthians 15:33-34). If Jesus is not who He claimed He was, then His influence would have ceased long ago, but till this day, good reports and testimonies are still being received of changed lives in Christ (Acts 5:36-39). False accusations always have their tell tale signs and in the case of Jesus’ trial, it was indicated by the inconsistencies of testimonies and the persistent effort to obtain testimony against Jesus to undermine our Lord’s reputation to put Him to death (Mark 14:56, 59).

In discerning whether something is a scam, sham or the truth, therefore, we should take steps to analyze and examine everything carefully and hold fast to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21). We should not be quick to jump to conclusion or falsely accuse another by assuming what we hear is true. Discernment is after all not about instinct or our gut feeling about something. Rather, it is the wisdom to be able to read between the lines, yet without jumping into conclusion about it. It is like understanding the untold in seeing things beyond what is obvious through the eyes of God to hold fast the right perspective in making use of all our senses which God has given us.

When we encounter situations that demand discernment, therefore, let us first analyze and examine the evidences so as to determine the truth. Let us use all our God-given senses, and along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, stand for what is right, rather than with the majority to be an accuser. Like King Solomon who sought God for an understanding heart to govern His people (1 Kings 3:9), let us also seek God to grant us hearts of wisdom and understanding to discern between good and evil.

Grant us wisdom Lord to discern that which is right, so as not to be deceived or without knowledge accuse another falsely. Help us Lord to examine everything carefully and hold fast to that which is good rather than to jump to conclusion without investigation or understanding. Remind us Lord to use the senses You have given us to put in perspective the truth in seeing beyond what is obvious to understand what lies between the lines. Lead us dear Lord to be sensitive to Your Spirit to seek His guidance in differentiating the genuine from the counterfeit that what is worth much may not be lost among the worthless.

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