Discernment: gift or curse?

I have a confession to make.  Whenever I talk with you, face to face, or engage in an email or text exchange, I’m always reading into every ounce of body language you emit, interpreting each word you speak and every word you type.  Discerning, or making judgments, if you will, is a character trait (or flaw) I own up to and, many times, I’ve wondered whether it’s been a gift or a curse.

I’m a lover of discussions centered on theology, lover of sermons, lover of reading, all in all, lover of receiving information, particularly theological, and interpreting it all as to where it fits in accordance with what the Bible says.  This gets me into trouble with some, because confrontation is also a character trait (again, flaw) I hold and when the two connect, let me just say I struggle with finding the balance between grace and truth when addressing others.

Where I believe that this discernment has been a gift is when it comes to theology.  The study of God’s Word is inexhaustible, so I’m careful to avoid being arrogant to the point where I think that my judgments are irrefutable, but I won’t go down without sound biblical exhortation. “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” (1 John 4:1).  I’m constantly testing what I read and hear when it comes to theology.  “For there will come a time when men will not put up with sound doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:3).

This is where it is clear that God expects us, as believers, to be knowledgeable about Scripture.  How else would we have the ability to discern whether a doctrine or claim about God, also in relation to man, is true?  We are to test and be critical when taking in information regarding Him and His Word, thoroughly seeking affirmation from Him before we offer our acceptance of what is being said.  Theology is for seminary students, doctrine takes away from the grace of Jesus, just focus on Jesus and love like He does, don’t quibble over useless disagreements, and my all time favorite, don’t judge.  I’ve heard them all and they’re only partial truths.  The whole truth is revealed in Scripture and, when we put our primary trust in man to interpret it for us, without putting in our due diligence to study it for ourselves, we’re missing the mark.

When I began to take serious interest and spend copious amounts of time reading and listening to all things theology, my husband assumed it was so I could win debates with people when various theological topics came up in conversation.  I do like to win when arguing.  Who doesn’t?  But he was mistaken on this one.  So far, learning more about God has proven to be the worthiest pursuit in my life.  It’s changed my perspective as He’s captured my heart for desiring to know Him.  I’ve had faith in God for 25 years, but the last 5 years of His refining of that faith through a deeper knowledge of Him has been fruitful in ways that my words can’t describe.

Discernment has been a gift, more so than a curse.  In my experience, not so much in that I discern rightly in all cases, but that God has given me the gift of desiring to.

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