The gift of discernment is a much sought after and valued gift. It can be defined as, “The sound judgment which makes possible the distinguishing of good from evil, and the recognition of God’s right ways for His people.” Discernment is given by God through His Holy Spirit to enable individuals and communities to judge the right course ahead. The gift of discernment is something we seek to grow in understanding and knowledge of God’s truth often in our reading of scripture, often by spending time in reflection on our own and with others, and often through prayer.
There are many examples of the use of discernment throughout the Bible from characters such as Abraham who discerned God’s voice to leave the safety of his family home because God had told him to “go” telling Abraham that He would make his descendants into a “Great Nation” (Genesis 12:2). Turning on a little further in our Bibles we come to Moses who experienced a clear command from God to lead God’s people the Israelites out of slavery and into the Promised Land. Both are examples of clear instruction given by God leading to significant change and blessing. It is important to note that neither of these men were perfect and often got things wrong too.
Discerning God’s will has inspired many Christians down the ages to do extraordinary things. St Francis of Assisi, a rich merchant’s son in the Middle Ages, when he was 25 heard God tell him that he needed to rebuild God’s church. What followed was a life that was to inspire people to this day to take up vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in following God and serving others. More recently people have been inspired by the likes of Mother Theresa and Jackie Pullinger. Both women discerning God’s call to give their lives to serving people in dire circumstances. Discerning God’s call is one thing, acting upon it and submitting to it can be personally very costly but ultimately fulfilling.
Discernment is not just about hearing God’s voice for something exceptional. The gift of discernment is also for our normal everyday lives. Proverbs 3:21-24 says:
“My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them, for they will refresh your soul. They are like jewels on a necklace. They keep you safe on your way, and your feet will not stumble. You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly.”
Discernment here is likened to common sense. It is prized like a jewel because it brings peace and sure footing to our lives.
In the book of Esther there is a lovely phrase, “For such a time as this.” For All Saints’ Church, at such a time as this, I want to encourage us all to pray for the gift of discernment as we look forward this year. With the wonderful legacy of £250,000 from Barry Kinder to improve our church building and grounds we need God’s discernment and wisdom more than ever to know how best to use this money. With this in mind, on Saturday 4th March 2017 the PCC (the Church Council) and Staff Team are going to come together for the morning to discern forward how God is asking us to use this money. I am confident that common sense will play a big part in our decision making but my hope is that we will discern God’s will for the future changes we are called to make. The Bible says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” As we do this individually and corporately I am sure God will establish His plans for His church, for His Kingdom, for His glory.
With every Blessing in Christ,
Daniel Currie (Vicar)