Devotion 73

Being Discerning

Throughout my 76+ years on this planet, I have been faced with many situations which required discernment; in many of these I failed the test set before me, as in my youth I lacked discernment. Thus, the cliché, trouble follows me like a dirty shirt, is quite apt. Although today I don’t consider myself wise, I have been given the gift of some measure of discernment.

What is this quality, which comes from Yahweh in combination with our own experiential learning? Proverbs 2 provides us with many of the elements of a discerning mind. Let’s review some of these: My son, if you will receive my words
and store my commands inside you, paying attention to wisdom inclining your mind toward understanding — yes, if you will call for insight and raise your voice for discernment, if you seek it as you would silver and search for it as for hidden treasure — then you will understand the fear of Adonai and find knowledge of God
. (Prov. 2:1-5) Discernment, it appears, comes from receiving the life instructions which emerge from our understanding of Hashem’s Words and from our lived experiences and processing these through the wisdom of our God. What comes from this active processing may be called insight and discernment. These do not come naturally to all human beings and, for most of us, must be sought after through prayer and Adonai’s guided reflection.

In 1 John 4:1, we are warned, don’t trust every spirit. On the contrary, test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. Oh, how this is so obvious in the various social media feeds. I have come to the understanding that many, many people do not exercise discernment, when reading these feeds but, as Rav Sha’ul shares with Timothy (2 Timothy 4:3,4) – For the time is coming when people will not have patience for sound teaching but will cater to their passions and gather around themselves teachers who say whatever their ears itch to hear.  Yes, they will stop listening to the truth, but will turn aside to follow myths. Beloved this time is now. Have you ever wondered, even though Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, advises us not to believe those who prophesy the date of His return, why so many believers blindly follow those charlatans who anticipate and broadcast a specific date and ‘rake-in’ millions of dollars in support from the naïve and the undiscerning? I have discussed this phenomenon with many who sincerely believe the Holy Spirit led them to believe these false prophets.  Obviously, Adonai Yeshua’s words about such foolishness has not gained traction.

The writer of Hebrews 5:13,14 clearly understands the level of spiritual depth of these who have been duped, as he claims – Anyone who has to drink milk is still a baby, without experience in applying the Word about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained by continuous exercise to distinguish good from evil. Are false teachers to be blamed for their subterfuge? Of course. However, the duped also have a responsibility for their own foolishness and ignorance. Hashem has given us this guidance, found in Ezekiel 18:20 – The person who sins is the one that will die — a son is not to bear his father’s guilt with him, nor is the father to bear his son’s guilt with him; but the righteousness of the righteous will be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked will be his own. But can we in all honesty say ignorance and foolishness are sins? Let’s turn to God’s Word for guidance here.

In Hosea 4:6a we read – My people are destroyed for want of knowledge. A similar treatment may be found in Acts 17:30, in which Rav Sha’ul teaches – In the past, God overlooked such ignorance; but now he is commanding all people everywhere to turn to him from their sins. Yes, dear friends, when we reach the age of acquiring wisdom and discernment and we fail to do so, for whatever reason, we will be held responsible and will be judged. (I am not going to be dragged into the tangential argument regarding those who are not intellectually capable of being discerning – I have met many discerning adults with Down’s Syndrome and are in the Autism Spectrum).

Beloved, we all have the responsibility of allowing Hashem’s Word to teach us and thus provide us with a measure of discernment and wisdom. Failure to do so is foolishness and will reap its fruit.

CONSIDER: Do you know anyone in your circle of friends who lacks discernment and is drawn to whatever popular ‘teacher’ of the day? Are you sometimes drawn to follow someone who claims to have the ‘inside knowledge’ of future events, even though this is unbiblical?

ACT: If we do not speak to those we know and warn them of their foolishness, we are as guilty as are they. Listen carefully to the words of Hashem, as found in Ezekiel 33:6 – But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the shofar, so that the people are not warned; and then the sword comes and takes any one of them, that one is indeed taken away in his guilt, but I will hold the watchman responsible for his death.

PRAY: Abba B’Shamayim please help me be discerning in the affairs of this earth and in distinguishing good spirits from evil; help me to be the watchman you made me to be, for everyone who turns to you has a responsibility for the welfare of his neighbour. In Your Beloved Name I pray.

May the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you richly.