I have judgment problems. Don’t misunderstand, I try not to judge people, mainly because I know that if my heart hides so much darkness then I am in no place to judge anyone. My judgment problems make me feel like an idiot. Mainly because I often don’t use any discernment at times when it would be wise. I don’t usually use discernment when it comes to people because I don’t want to be anywhere near judging them, and discernment feels a little like judging to me. It’s gotten me into some pickle jars, not just into pickles but into jars of pickles. Because I don’t always exercise this spiritual gift I’ve let myself become a person with few boundaries in places that need boundaries. For instance, friendships with boys/men: there is no need to practice being a wife or mother on people who you are not a wife or mother to in a way that creates the possibility of unhealthy attachment. This is something that I realized within the past few months and am now trying to exercise keeping boundaries up with grace and love.
Discernment is often confused with good judgment, which is understandable because it’s basically the spiritual gift of being able to evaluate something and see where it’s rooted, in Christ or in anything else. My mother, though sometimes a mess, has always been able to see the root of things. Her gay-dar is out of this world, while mine doesn’t exist. She’s been able to understand situations in ways that I never could see possible because of her instincts and God-given understanding.
This all has been on my mind because of some discussions I’ve been a part of recently. A good amount of them have had a lot to do with accountability and being examples of Christ to the world. Of course, most of these discussions get me riled up like a tiger in front of a pepper steak, but I have chosen in most cases to keep my thoughts to myself because they are all about myself and not about the dear people who are speaking truth into my life. Oh yes, I do see that when I am in the middle of a situation that is uncomfortable and makes me want to point out everyone elses inadequacies so that they don’t get a chance to see my own, I’m having heart problems. This is a place where surprisingly God has delivered some discernment into me, a place where I can sit back and take a moment to assess things and why my heart isn’t comfortable.
The first thing I’ve figured out is that I do not want to tell people about how sinful I really am. And I don’t want to be accountable for it because I feel ashamed of myself. You would think that at this point I would be able to get a handle on a few things, but it appears that I haven’t even tried. What’s worse is that I enjoy sinning, and I don’t usually want to stop. This, combined with not reading the word as often and skipping church and bible study during my trip, has led to a very ego-centric heart. That’s something I need to continue to repent about, and continue to pray and seek God’s truth about.
“If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroy, I prove that I am a law-breaker. For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for it righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” – Galatians 2:17-21
The second thing I’ve figured out goes back to talks with friends about bible study. A few of the people I’ve developed strong friendships with have found the tone of the group so negative that they can’t take some of the experience seriously. They have expressed impatience and disgust for some of the attitudes seen at the group, and they get pissy about how much talk about sin there is and how little joy they see.
And in the midst of this I have discovered some discernment, I think.
I am not worried about seeming overly sinful to these friends, I worry about coming off as righteous and pompous. I want to be able to tell them the truth kindly, with love, but I also know that they can take whatever I say as soon as it’s out of my mouth and interpret it in whatever ways they desire.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10
I believe that the reasons these friends of mine are feeling this way have to do with the following:
- They are feeling pressure and guilt about their sin because of how often its brought up
- They are in desperate need of the joy of the Lord, but because they haven’t been able to grasp it they have heard some whispers of the enemy
- They are able to see that not all groups are going to be able to operate in certain ways, but they aren’t remembering how important the community is irregardless
When the stakes are high we cannot expect the battles to pass by us, or for there to be a hiatus in the war surrounding us. The enemy will use any and every recourse he has to separate us from each other, from truth, from love. The unity of the body, in any way that it forms, is more important than the petty disagreements that take place. In many ways the most concise way that I can put it is that we need to get over ourselves, because the body is so much bigger than each individual. And while we’re getting past our insecurities, our guilt and shame, our absolute assurance that we are too broken to be able to do anything for the gospel aside from ruin it, we should take care of each other. We should be kind and tender, loving and honest and understanding of the battles that we are all a part of and all need support in.