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Praying for Discernment 2: Discernment in the Church

Praying for Discernment Day 2: Discernment in the Church

Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?  (1 Kings 3:9, ESV)

When God told King Solomon to ask for what He should give him, the king didn’t ask for riches, good health, fame or happiness. He asked for wisdom. As we discussed yesterday, wisdom is closely tied to discernment. Perhaps one of the most notable examples of King Solomon’s discernment was in his ruling regarding two mothers. 

One mother who had lost her baby during the night stole the other woman’s baby from her bed, tucking her own dead child in with the other woman. But in the morning, the mother with the dead child beside her knew that this was not her child. So both came before the king, fighting over whom the surviving baby belonged to. King Solomon proposed that the baby be cut in two, giving half to each mother. He discerned—correctly—that the true mother of the child would not want the baby killed. The real mother passionately pled with him to spare the child and give it to the other woman. The king’s wisdom and discernment were valuable tools to get to the truth and reunite the true mother and her living baby.

It’s not every day that a situation like this presents itself in our local churches. However, there are many situations today that call for discernment—a gift given by the Holy Spirit that gives direction and a godly solution to problems. It’s vital that church leaders, as they meet difficult situations, have discernment. It’s important that these leaders are led by the Holy Spirit and not by their own personal convictions or agendas; that can become legalism, without discernment. 

The Church today is facing many new complicated issues that revolve around Covid and the various strains of the virus. Whether to meet in person or meet virtually, how to carry out communion, or how to handle social situations within the local church—discernment is desperately needed. Unfortunately, this virus has caused many issues within the church and some have even closed their doors permanently over the inability to resolve these issues. 

Then there are difficulties within marriages, families, and between fellow believers that need careful advising and resolution. There is sexual immorality that needs to be addressed. There are addictive habits that need attention. There are a host of issues that can surround the misuse of finances. There are those who disrupt unity and there are those with an unteachable spirit. These are but a few of our modern-day issues within the Church that call for discerning believers who are willing to step in and help.

Each local church has a governing body that leads in decisions and the shepherding of its people. These leaders are appointed after their gift for leadership is acknowledged. One such gift is the ability to discern. How can a delicate situation be handled properly if leaders aren’t able to properly discern? The answer, in short, is that it can’t possibly be handled well without discerning leaders. Information must be gathered, the Scriptures must be studied and applied, and then loving and compassionate guidance must be given.

As we touched on earlier, we cannot try to settle issues through legalism rather than Spirit-led discernment. Legalism isn’t based on God’s Word as much as it’s based on personal agendas. Furthermore, it isn’t based on love and a true and compassionate interest in seeing a godly resolution. Legalism is more of a “my way or the highway” style of handling issues, further dividing rather than uniting.

Give God thanks today for those who presently have the gift of discernment in your local church. It’s a necessary component for a thriving local testimony. These leaders face tough issues and invest a lot of time and prayer into seeking a godly solution, often adding stress to their own lives and upsetting those who disagree with their decisions. Respect their insight and their courage to step forward and handle unpleasant and complicated circumstances. And if God has gifted you with discernment, ask Him to show you where it’s needed in the lives of those around you. Continue to pray that God will open your eyes and your heart to the needs of others and equip you for the task at hand.

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