Tuesday, November 23, 2010

judging or discerning?

We just finished studying 1 and 2 Thessalonians in my bible study last week.  

And we had a fairly long discussion on this verse:

"In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us" 2 Thess 3:6

Paul goes on later to say to not associate with those believers that are idle so as to make them feel ashamed and change their behavior.

The questions came up.....what does it mean to be idle?  Isn't that judging?  We can't judge others, we don't know what is in their hearts.

I believe Paul is talking about freeloaders in these verses.....those that are capable of working and feeding themselves but choose to live off of everyone else.

But a bigger issue that came up is....are we to judge others or not? 

I believe there is a big difference between judging and discerning

The dictionary definition of each is:

judging: to pass legal judgment on; pass sentence on (a person)
discerning: to perceive by the sight or some other sense or by the intellect; see, recognize, or apprehend 
We can not know a person's heart, this is true.  Only God knows what goes on in there.  However, we can see their actions and how they live their life and perceive whether they are living out what Christ taught. 

This morning, my devotion was all about this and I think Blackaby laid it out so clear:

"There is a significant difference between judgment and discernment.  God sees people's hearts and knows their motives.  God commands us not to judge others, but He does want us to be discerning.  Jesus said we would know people's spiritual condition by the fruit of their lives.  He said grapes are not produced by thorn bushes.  If a person's life produces thorns, we can assume that person is not a grapevine!! Are we being judgmental? No, we are being discerning.  Scripture commands us to avoid associating with scoffers or fools.  Unless we are able to identify scoffers and fools, we cannot obey God's command.  That is not being judgmental, it is being discerning. "

This is such a hot topic in our society.  We are being told and taught to tolerate differences.  However, the bible is pretty clear that we are to make distinctions.  

I pray that God helps me not to be judgmental (which is sometimes my tendency), but I also pray that He gives me discernment.....

.........and the ability to know the difference.


April's adventure said...

Great word Sara, did similar study in The Deeper Still, Faithful, Abundant, True. Beth Moore had guidelines on being discerning and learning to know the difference. She had 5 rules to help. Great study.

Aspiemom said...

Very good, Sara. That is a hot topic these days. You can't say anything w/o hearing about being judged.

Mimi said...

What a tricky subject. Very interesting to think about, thanks for sharing.

Hugs & love,

Cathy said...

Very well said Sara!

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

AMEN to that! When I began to read even befor I got down to the refrence about the fruit, that was the first thing that came to mind.

We may not have the right to judge but we all have the ability to look for the fruit.

Well said!


RaD said...

I have the same prayer.

He & Me + 3 said...

What an awesome post. I totally agree...may I not be judgmental but use discernment

Karin said...

I totally agree...and just read that Blackaby devotion the other day. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you! New to your blog and this is your first post I've read. For me, it isn't difficult to share in a group I think loves the Lord and is seeking to grow spiritually. But many times so hard to apply the lessons learned in my daily walk. I've seen more mature Christians than myself remain silent or uninvolved. It takes courage to raise questions in front of the larger, "unknown" community...the community we are commissioned to reach for Christ. A blog is very public, and you did an excellent post on this difficult subject. Thanks again!

Kim said...

GREAT post! Thanks so much for sharing what you're learning so we can learn too!