Have you notice that it is a bit funny that when someone criticizes another, and they are told by the person criticized, "that was not very loving." The response is always something to the order of, "If I hadn't told you it would be less loving."
Now, that is true, to a point, yet the issue is not often in the criticism itself, but in the manner it is delivered. The delivery itself should be done in a loving manner... with humility fully on your sleeves.
Part of the calling we all have as ministers of the Gospel... (Lay and professional) is the ministry of reconciliation. This means that to who disagree are brought together and the thing that split them is laid aside and their focus is on Jesus. The Bible teaches this as it says"Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
This is one of the most misused scriptures I have heard, outside of the clear admonishment NOT TO JUDGE OTHERS... (Updated: Used here to judge their salvation and condemn them or to judge others by your own self righteousness)
When we disagree even then we are to approach each other in a way that will glorify God.
The dictionary definition of “discern” is:
1 a : to detect with the eyes
2 : to recognize or identify as separate and distinct : DISCRIMINATE
In the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32: 28-29 Moses says something that should lead one to a more biblical understanding of discernment. In the passage Moses is reflecting on the Egyptians lack of seeing Who God is…
They are a nation without sense,
If only they were wise and would understand this
Notice as if it is needed as part of discernment is “wisdom” or “If only they were wise”. Wisdom is the major component in discernment…
One definition I picked up about discernment is "wisdom and knowledge tempered with love". It is the seeking out to the best for the other and not just pointing out the worst.
So let’s dig a bit deeper and look where wisdom should come from.
The first time we see wisdom coming into play is in Genesis 3: 6 “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.”
First off remember from the last post that this is all about seeking knowledge and wisdom outside of God. To do that is to make oneself a god unto himself.
Contrast that with the passage in Genesis 34: 9 where we find a wisdom that is from God.
“Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit [a] of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the LORD had commanded Moses”
So often we do not seek God’s wisdom and trust in our own… and this leads to the sin of judgmentalism as it lack humility to admit one is not the source of wisdom itself… and denies that it comes from God.
The other passage I think is important in discernment is Ephesians 4: 15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”
This phrase is used as an excuse to bash people all the time which really shows a great lack of understanding let alone wisdom and discernment. In the Context the purpose of “speaking the truth in love” is found in the verses above and the verses below this one profound verse.
In verse 12- 13 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Yes this is the job of pastors, teachers and all, yet again the context is what we are looking at… and this is the purpose of speaking the truth in love.)
The next verse is below as I said, 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
The most important thing that most who “truth in love” is that it is about unity… it is about growing and being joined together… to use this verse as a way to “tell someone off in Christ” is really a n abomination to the verses message.
One can lose the person by just "telling the truth in love" which often carries very little truth and even less love especially if the motive is not to reconcile and join together in Christ.
Discernment is a very good thing… so as you do it remember "wisdom and knowledge tempered with love" will win over more than a sharp rebuke. There is a place for sharp rebuke… and often that is between friends.
Proverbs 27:5 Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Is not an excuse to not love. Often one hides the love but this verse does not mean that at all… in fact it is saying it is better to rebuke in love over all if you can grasp that. We should never use a verse to allow us not to love one another… for that is one of the greatest commands of Jesus.
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