The Virtue of Discernment

June 5, 2020

The Virtue of Discernment

By Russell George

Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad.” I Kings 3:9

We are all on a journey to the future. What we find in the future depends, in great part, in the decisions we have made. We can’t make wise decisions if we don’t have discernment. Every new day is a short span of our future. We get to enjoy a little bit of what we have invested in the days, months, and years past. Galatians 6:7-8 talks about sowing and reaping. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

We reap according to what we have sown. If we haven’t sown anything, we can’t expect to reap anything. If we have sown to the flesh it says we will reap corruption. That word “corruption” can be taken in two ways. It could mean that what is sown to the flesh will be consumed by our fleshly appetites. After it’s gone, it’s gone. Corruption, of course, also means that which is corrupt or immoral. In contrast, if we have sown to the spirit, it will go on yielding life into the future.

Romans 8:5-6 says we have two minds. “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” We have a carnal mind and a spiritual mind. That word carnal means fleshly. Our body has sensations and desires that demand to be met. The carnal mind deals with those things. Children and young people look to their parents to provide for the satisfaction of those needs. At the same time, children and young people need to be learning so that as they get older, they themselves will be capable of meeting those carnal needs. With our spiritual mind we make decisions about what we should or shouldn’t do. That is where we need discernment.

Where do we get discernment?

Wisdom is a close relative of discernment. Proverbs 4:5 says, “Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not.” If you have wisdom and understanding, you will also have discernment. The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about wisdom. If you spend much time in the book of Proverbs you will gain in discernment. You need to not only read the book of Proverbs, but also to study and meditate on it. If you can get a commentary on Proverbs, it will be a great asset to you. As you read in Proverbs you need to stop often and meditate on what you have read. To meditate is to ponder on what you have read. Ask yourself questions. What does it mean? How can I apply this to my life?

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” When you are thinking about doing something and aren’t certain about whether you should or not, these are some questions you can ask yourself. It takes discernment to answer these questions.

Is it true? Discernment will help you discern between truth and untruth. Is it honest? Is it a half truth or a lie? Discernment will tell you that. Is it pure? Would I be ashamed of myself afterwards if I did that? Is it of good report? Will I lose the respect others have in me if I do it? Discernment will help you answer these questions.

People have been fed the lie that “Everything is relative”. They say that there is no absolute truth. That way of thinking leaves people confused. We need to get back to what we used to call “good common sense.” Discernment will help us do that. If you get a bad pain in your side, you will no doubt go to the doctor. You better hope that he hasn’t bought into the lie that there is no absolute truth. If he has, he has a right to think that there is no right and wrong way to treat medical problems. If he thinks that way he may examine you and say, “I think you have appendicitis. Stop by the pharmacy and get a bottle of aspirin. Take one of them twice a day, and I think you will be alright.”

Just as there is a right and wrong way to treat medical problems, there is also a right and wrong way to live. You need to agree with God and say, “Yes God. You are right. Help me to live the way I should.

God wants you to have discernment. That’s why he has placed it at your disposal. Discernment comes by agreeing with God. We agree with God if we have the right relationship with him. That comes when we acknowledge that we are sinners and ask God’s forgiveness for all the wrong that we have done. He can forgive us because Jesus paid the penalty for our sin when he died on the cross. Romans 5:6-8 says, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

In gratitude to God for all he has done for us, we should want to please him. That means we will want to live our life in a way that will please him. We will want to do what he says is right. The more we saturate our minds with the Word of God, the more we will know what is pleasing to him. Psalm 1:1-2 tells us that the blessed man delights day and night in the law of God. Verse three goes on to tell us what the result will be. “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” God’s people don’t suffer when they do his will. To the contrary, they prosper. Sometimes they suffer persecution from unbelievers, but that just comes from living in a wicked world.

Don’t miss the blessing of having discernment. It will make you successful. It will enable you to have peace, satisfaction, and enjoy life a whole lot more than you could without it.


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