Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The ABC’s of Discernment: D is for Discipline

Learning discernment is not easy. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either ignorant, a fool, or a liar. Rather, learning discernment takes time and energy and effort. It takes consistent practice and regular application. In short, it takes discipline.

Discipline comes naturally to very few of us.

Instead we procrastinate and say, “I’ll get to it tomorrow.” Or we shrug our shoulders claiming to be too busy. At times we may argue ourselves into believing that discernment isn’t all that important, or at least not important enough to expend our time and energy on.

But God did not save us from our sins merely to provide us a “Get out of Hell free” pass. He intends for each of us to grow up in our faith. He wants us to become like Him in order that we may reflect His Glory—the sum of His character and all that He is—to the world. And one of the marks of maturity is discernment.

Therefore, discernment is important. It is worth the time it takes out of our busy lives. Failing to take that time to learn discernment is to our detriment.

How, then, do we disciple ourselves to learn discernment?

First, commit. You may want to put it into writing, tell others of your intent, ask friends or family to join you in this venture. But do something to declare your firm resolution to learn discernment in a way that will hold you accountable.

Second, train. A commitment is only an empty promise—worthless and false—unless acted upon. So act upon your commitment. Study Scripture. Analyze whatever you meet in light of that study. Ask hard question. Refuse to accept the easy answer.

Finally, be deliberate and consistent. While we need discernment every day of our lives, to learn discernment will require you to allot time on a regular basis for the purpose of practicing discernment. Personally, I love using the analysis and dissection of fictional media for this, as stories are life contained and compressed in a repeatable format. But other methods exist—journaling, debate, discussion. Whatever method you choose, just make sure you set aside time regularly to focus on a specific issue with the intent of measuring it against the plumb line of Scripture in the attempt to separate the good from the bad. 

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