This is a word that has been very important to me over the last few weeks. And yet it’s only now, when I'm looking into it for this, that I realise how important it really is.
Discernment is a noun that comes from the verb 'to discern'. Let's look at a few definitions first.
1. the faculty of discerning; discrimination; acuteness of judgement and understanding.
2. the act or an instance of discerning.
1. to perceive by the sight or some other sense or by the intellect; see, recognise, or apprehend.
2. to distinguish mentally; recognise as distinct or different; discriminate.
3. to distinguish or discriminate.
Basically, from our Christian point of view, discernment is the ability to differentiate between truth and lies, decide between right and wrong, and to carefully consider everything we hear as we hold it up against the infallible truth of God's Word.
At this time with so many new religions, so many branches of main stream religions, and so many ways to find god (yep - with a small g) it is essential for us as believers to know what we believe and to know where that belief comes from. Even in Christian circles, from big multi-million dollar ministries, to the prosperity gospel to mainstream churches, we need to know what we should be listening to.
This past weekend I attended a women's conference and I loved it - as usual! However there was one major difference this year. This year one of the two main speakers was very controversial and said quite a few things that a lot of people disagreed with. At one point she said some quite potentially damaging things about ADHD, Alzheimer’s and cancer, so that put a lot of people off listening to anything else. But at the same time not all that she said was wrong.
And so this is where the whole discernment comes into play. When we go to hear a sermon, talk or listen to a podcast, we need to ask God for the gift of discernment so that we can tell if things we are hearing are coming from Him or from someone who just likes the sound of their own voice.
"Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit.
You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God.
For there are many false prophets in the world."
1 John 4:1
The issue I had with the guest speaker at the weekend was that she stated things as facts, even though they weren't necessarily facts, and she said things in her talks that could really have impacted ladies in a very negative way, but it was said as a sentence and then passed by as if it wasn't life-changing. Examples included talking about depression, anxiety, mental disorders etc - and as a sufferer of one of these, I found her rather lacking in love and compassion as she basically told us to pick ourselves up and think ourselves well!
But, as I said before, not everything she said was like that. There were several really interesting things that I am looking forward to implementing in my 'focus challenge'. But more about that later in the month!!
"Then we will no longer be immature like children.
We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching.
We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies
so clever they sound like the truth."
The main thing we have to go back to every time we hear something is whether or not it holds to the truth of God's Word. His Word will never contradict itself, so if we are hearing something that doesn't sit right, or goes against what we know from His Word, then chances are it’s not right. The Holy Spirit lives in us and we need to learn to listen to His voice because He's there for a reason!! He will always talk to us when we're listening to sermons etc - whether to help us understand what’s being said, or to caution us against what we're hearing. I know of several ladies who had to leave some of the talks at the conference because they felt so uncomfortable. But likewise I know several other ladies who loved the science-ness of her talks. The problem was it was too sciencey for a ladies conference, and didn't mention God as much as I would have wanted.
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure,
and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."
So what do we do if we sit under false teaching, feel uncomfortable about a message or a speaker? We need to go back to the truth. We need to get back into God's Word, test out what was said and make sure we take time to listen to God in our times with Him. We can't get around this - time spent with God in His Word and in His presence is the only thing that will help us to really discern what we hear.
So for World Book Day - get into the one and only book that will matter!!
So get those Bibles out, make some space in your day and get reading!
And keep shining xxx