A response to "Here Come Da Judge" - "Donna's Corner" from September 2012. Click here to read that edition.
‘Judging and discerning often get mixed up.’ Yes they do. It’s always bothered me that many want to eliminate judgment, and how much it hurts, and therefore jump into the opposite ditch and throw out discernment as well . . .
”Also I see two types of discernment operating in our Christian circles. The first is a low level of discernment that sees the person/organization has a problem, misdirected action, incorrect worldview, damaging way of responding to others, etc, etc, and thinks that simply pointing that out is helpful. Most people already know that they are screw-ups, they don’t need us to tell them that rage, lying, self pity, etc, are destructive responses.
“When we use this level of ‘discernment’ we can find ourselves siding with the accuser of the brethren. We use Christian vernacular with that wrong spirit and wonder why the outcome is not helpful. It’s a mixed message. Spiritual discernment goes much further. It asks the question ‘Lord what is pushing this person to act like this? What hurtful event and interpretation, what unholy inner vow, what judgment of others is in the heart and is fleshing out in this manifestation. And Lord what are you doing in this person’s life right now to help them, what role are you asking me to play in that? How can I side with what you are doing?’
“Then you can know and act out of a deeper love with your discernment. If it’s prayer, then great. If its to speak, then great. If its to act on their behalf, then great. Maybe then we could begin dealing with the root issues, instead of fighting about the fleshy surface results. Either way the spirit behind it will be right and therefore the fruit will be better, and either way you leave the results with God.
‘When you judge someone, you’re basically condemning them.’ Punishment. I’m not so sure our role is punishment in the body of Christ. Choices with consequences, maybe. . . . . if its in our area of authority/responsibility.
‘When you discern something in someone, or in an event, you observe that this or that is right or wrong. What you do with that bit of information determines whether you are judging or discerning.’ Exactly. ‘If you discern something is wrong, bottom line is . . . stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. (Rom 14:13) So, it’s back on us. We are responsible to not put stumbling blocks in other people’s way!
When you discern something wrong, if you can't do something positive and helpful about it, just give it to the Lord. And as with all gifts, don't take it back!’
“Even if you can do something positive and helpful, have you earned the right? You might need to invest in some relationship first, before assuming that you are God’s gift to this person. You know the old ‘no one cares what you know unless they know that you care.’ Personally I don’t care how many degrees behind your name, or your position, I need to see your heart. Then I may give you the right to speak, and I will still check out what you say with the ‘truth benchmark.’ (If you’re feeding me poison does it matter if you’re well-intentioned or not?)
“If truth is like a road then the two ditches are ‘we need to live by principle vs. we need to live by the spirit.’ The word-people vs. the spirit-people. The realists vs. the mystics. The Baptists vs. the charismatics. Whatever the label you want to put on it when He said ‘worship me in Spirit and in Truth,’ he was saying we need both. Till the body quits living in the pride of our chosen ditch we’ll never see the highway down the middle we could be driving on. Way more effective to travel on a highway then try to get somewhere by traveling in a ditch. Recently I thought I heard the Lord say ‘If you’ll stand for truth, I’ll stand with you.’ So His word (past ‘Logos’ and present ‘Rehma’) can be summed up in the person who called Himself ‘The Way, The Truth and The Life.’ I think your pastor friend is on the right track.
“Thanks for making me think this month!”