Yes, we are on day 23 of 31 Days of Proverbs, but because Chapter 23 seems to be speaking to me about discernment, I wanted this verse to be a prerequisite to any comments I make. While it is easy to think of discernment as something that should come naturally, the Bible says something very different:
“Apply yourself to instruction and listen to words of knowledge.” Proverbs 23:12
Apply yourself. How many times did we hear our parents or a teacher say, “If you would just apply yourself…”, implying that there is effort involved if we want to take what we’ve learned and use it to our advantage.
The question is (for me anyway), “What can I do to gain the wisdom and discernment that I need if I’m going to follow God’s plan for my life?”
:Discerning: showing good or outstanding judgment and understanding [dictionary.com]
Stop and read Proverbs 23 if you haven’t already.
Did you see the action words that describe what discernment looks like?
“consider carefully”; “give your attention to”; “insight”; “applying instruction”; “listening to words of knowledge”; “correction”; “say what is right”; “fear the Lord”; “listen”; “be wise”; “keep your mind on the right course”; “listen”; “observe”. [HCSB]
Verse 23 sums it up well:
“Buy–and do not sell–truth, wisdom, instruction, and understanding.” Proverbs 23:23
Far too often we value man’s opinion more than God’s clear teaching on what is the best choice for us as His children. We live in a world that says, “why can’t we just love everybody?”–meaning let’s just “live and let live”, with no distinction between what the Bible says is good and right AND what is wrong, or evil. Jesus came to demonstrate God’s love for us–but the world wants to negate the fact that His love was demonstrated by death on a cross. Our sin cost Him his life. He loved us too much to leave us in our sin. Discernment based on the Word of God is a clear choice to call sin what it is: an abomination to Holy God.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
Did you notice how many times Proverbs uses the word, “listen”? If we are listening to the world’s changing standards it would be easy to justify just about anything–but if you read the Word of God, you will hear something different. The Bible speaks very clearly about what is true and right and just.
Biblical discernment is based solely on God’s Word. Period.
“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2
Read James 1:5 again. To be wise and discerning we absolutely must be willing to ask. You and I know that just filling our heads with knowledge doesn’t guarantee wisdom or discernment–it takes the Holy Spirit living in us, empowering us and guiding us. We just have to ask.