Another good reason to develop discernment

By Elizabeth Prata

We’ve been commissioned by Jesus to share His Gospel with everybody and make disciples with those who convert. (Matthew 28:16-20).

And we do. But… There are some people, especially those close to us, who refuse to hear it, but we keep trying, for the sake of their eternal souls.

On the other hand we are told,

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. (Matthew 7:6).

How do we know when to stop sharing the Gospel with someone who refuses?  How many times do we share it? After all, we are supposed to forgive seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:20-22). Do we share it that many times with the reluctant hearer? How do we know when to leave the peson who refuses aside? This is hard to do when it’s your dad or yrou uncle or your brother.

Here is where developing our discernment helps us. Matthew Henry has some advice.

As a rule to all in giving reproof. Our zeal against sin must be guided by discretion, and we must not go about to give instructions, counsels, and rebukes, much less comforts, to hardened scorners, to whom it will certainly do no good, but who will be exasperated and enraged at us. Throw a pearl to a swine, and he will resent it, as if you threw a stone at him; reproofs will be called reproaches, as they were (Lu. 11:45; Jer. 6:10), therefore give not to dogs and swine (unclean creatures) holy things.

Note, [1.] Good counsel and reproof are a holy thing, and a pearl: they are ordinances of God, they are precious; as an ear-ring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is the wise reprover (Prov. 25:12), and a wise reproof is like an excellent oil (Ps. 141:5); it is a tree of life (Prov. 3:18). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible

Warren Wiersbe also has some good advice.

As God’s people, we are privileged to handle the “holy things” of the Lord. He has entrusted to us the precious truths of the Word of God (2 Cor. 4:7), and we must regard them carefully. No dedicated priest would throw meat from the altar to a filthy dog, and only a fool would give pearls to a pig. While it is true that we must carry the Gospel “to every creature” (Mark 16:15), it is also true that we must not cheapen the Gospel by a ministry that lacks discernment. Even Jesus refused to talk to Herod (Luke 23:9), and Paul refused to argue with people who resisted the Word (Acts 13:44–49).

The reason for judgment, then, is not that we might condemn others, but that we might be able to minister to them. Notice that Jesus always dealt with individuals according to their needs and their spiritual condition. He did not have a memorized speech that He used with everybody. He discussed the new birth with Nicodemus, but He spoke of living water to the Samaritan woman. When the religious leaders tried to trap Him, He refused to answer their question (Matt. 21:23–27). It is a wise Christian who first assesses the condition of a person’s heart before sharing the precious pearls. Wiersbe, W. W. The Bible exposition commentary

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It’s imperative that we constantly train ourselves in discernment skills. Discernment is not only for the detecting of false teaching, but it is also an aid for helping us in witnessing, (among many other reasons!)

But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebews 5:14).

10 Comments

  1. My, this was a timely word to me. I only prayed a few days ago about this and here is my answer:) I find though that I cannot do anything. I can’t even ” like” a verse on FB or an article, because my family sees them and gets in a fit about it. Everything must be directed at them in their minds. I have wondered whether to let them control me by not even ‘ liking” things, because that’s really all it is- control. But all my family is unregenerate and I think just about anything offends them and they are always in a rage. Hard to know where to draw the line.

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    1. I’m sorry your family is so opposed to the Gospel, I know it’s hard. Mine too. It’s always a back and forth with me, but when the time eventually came to leave it alone, because I sensed my activity was hardening them even more, I reluctantly stopped. 😦

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  2. I’m thrilled to see you write about discernment in a different light, Elizabeth! People have a woefully narrow understanding of discernment. Thank you for writing an essay that shows such a practical use of discernment!

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