Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder"1 (Lyrics)
Kayley, one of my collies, is three years old now and is still a barker. She barks at anything and everything, despite my training, discipline, and frustration with her and this noisy bad habit. Collies do tend to bark, since they are herding dogs and are often in charge of livestock. They need to be aware of dangers, and they use their voice to tell predators, "Back off! This is my territory!" But Kayley lacks something very important in regard to her barking. She lacks discernment.
Discernment is the ability to recognize small details, to accurately tell the difference between similar things, and to make intelligent judgements by using such observations.
Discernment is something that Kayley would greatly benefit from regarding what she does and doesn't need to bark at.
Likewise, God's people need discernment.
1 John 4:1 – Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (NIV)
We need to be able to read the events and actions that are happening within our world as well as within our churches. We must be able to test the spirits to see whether they are from God. Do they line up with the Word of God, the actions of Jesus, and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit? Are they pure and holy, or do they stem from this world and the ruler of this world, the prince of darkness? Discernment allows us to recognize small details that may seem like truth, but when they are closely examined, they are revealed to be untruths. We need to be able to tell the difference accurately between ideas or thoughts that seem true and make intelligent, godly judgements by using such observations.
Some Christians want to bark at anything and everything that may be new or different from what the church has always done. Others don't want to bark at anything, choosing to go with the flow and keep the peace, even if they believe that certain decisions are not godly. Both of these actions display a lack of discernment, which is damaging to the body of Christ. Using discernment brings the ability to judge well what is false and what is true. This in turn leads to wisdom, which is the application of the knowledge that we have discerned, allowing us to know when we need to stand up and bark — fight for the truth — or else to be quietly supportive of godly changes that we may or may not like.
I continue to work with Kayley, and yes, even pray that God will grant this creature of His a little more discernment. I also continue to pray, amidst these troubling times, for the church, the world, and myself to have the discernment that we need in order to recognize what it true and what is false, for God has spoken in today's verse: "Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God."
Prayer: Father God, we pray for the gift of discernment for ourselves as well as for all Your children. May we, the body of Christ, be able to test the spirits and know whether or not they are from You. May our individual lives and our life as the body of Christ shine pure and clear as a message of truth and salvation within our tired and struggling world. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.