It is interesting that the first verse I start our study on seems to have no “harshness” to it, you know the judgy edge that seems to be so implied.
To discern seems to be so wise, so educated, so enlightened.
But lets step back for a few minutes and consider what it means to judge. Let me suggest that to judge is to make a decision regarding a certain action or thought.
Let me try to explain my thoughts with a silly story.
One day, as I am strolling down the road, I see a $1 bill and a $100 bill. The wind is starting to pick up and I have to make a decision. Should I chase the $1 bill or the $100 bill? I have to make a judgement, a decision, and then follow through with it. In this instance, there is no moral element in the decision / judgement, (other than possible covetousness,) but would it not simply be foolish to abandon that poor lonely $100 bill!
My point is that the decision was a judgement. In this instance, there was no moral dilemma, or determination of right from wrong.
Although premature in our study, may I suggest that judgement is a requirement of every living person on earth. Some may make good judgments and some may make bad judgments. But all make judgments upon which we perform activities.
How could we survive if we did not make decisions. Years ago, with a wife and five young children under 10 yrs old, my wife and I made a decision to further my education. It was a judgement that we could suffer for 2 – 3 yrs while I was in school, but the family would reap the benefits afterward. Many thought I was a fool, and during the study period I had my doubts. But the Lord is faithful and pulled us through.
We made a judgement, based on the available knowledge that we had and then followed through with the action.
Back to Philippians 1:9
Paul is praying for the Philippians and seeking for their love to abound and abound. More love! Give out more love!
With more love comes the danger of abuse.
One more story.
I used to go door knocking, doing some evangelization, and a brother asked to come along. After a few nights on the doors we came up to a couple named Derek and Lisa. They were interested in the gospel and Blair was leading the discussion. They asked good questions, but at the end of the discussion, Derek admitted that they had no money for diapers.
Blair jumped all over that. More love eh Carl?
Let’s buy them a bunch of diapers and maybe some food to let them know we care. And we did – numerous times.
So – did we do right or wrong. This is where the rubber hits the road. We needed discernment. This is a spiritual skill/gift that only comes through prayer.
It is a form of judgement, determining the right thing to do.
Notice that Paul mentions knowledge first, not feelings. We had the feelings that night! Oh boy – wow we had some live ones and if diapers would bring them into the kingdom of God, dang it all – I would buy em pampers!
But alas, we needed discernment. And that is a form of judgement that believers need desperately in this modern age.
Let me ask a final question.
Is discernment evident in the church when believers elevate entertainment above edification, when we look for sensation instead of spirit, when we follow after personality instead of character?
I hope I’m asking obvious questions.
Thanks for joining me in this study. Hope to visit with you in our next post as we look at the Greek term ἀνακρίνω which is commonly translated examine, judge, ask question, search and discern in the New Testament.
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