A while ago I had an experience that required both loving as God commands us to love, and the necessity in this instance, to use discernment because it would have a wide and potentially serious consequence if the situation was not handled the right way. I was challenged on my assertion that we needed to use some discernment in this particular instance, (I had a huge check in my spirit) because other party felt that was being super spiritual and we are to ‘just love people’. And of course we are; the upshot of this for me is that it had me exploring how love and the exercise of discernment can flow together.
The gift of discernment is something we very much need today, and going forward. Discernment can describe the process of determining God's desire in a situation or for one's life or identifying the true nature of a thing, such as discerning whether a thing is good, evil, truth or error or which spirit is at work in a situation, a person’s life, or an environment. It is one of the gifts God gives us to also understand what He is doing or wants to do in our lives. Discernment is not always about demonic influences, most of the time it is about listening to what Papa is saying for ourselves.
God tells us in Matthew 10:16 ‘I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.’ We are to exercise wisdom and be alert, and discernment is one of the gifts He has given us to do that. He commands us to love as He loves. We speak of loving the sinner and hating the sin. We are to love the person regardless of their weaknesses, bondages, difficulties or demons influencing their lives. If you’re like me you’re learning to love as God loves too. We are all on the journey.
God has given us the gift of discernment and wisdom plus the Holy Spirit so we can be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. He has not told us to stop loving as He loves because we have discerned a spirit at work influencing a person. The enemy can be very crafty and he will use all kinds of strategies to create chaos in situations and lives. Usually, he needs people to do that for him, and often they can be unaware of what is happening. So we are to love the person but discern what the enemy may be doing in the background.
Discernment doesn’t mean that we go around looking for the enemy at work or demons influencing people. Most of the time when I discern the enemy up to something, I simply go away and pray into it, and for the people concerned, in a positive and loving way. Very occasionally you have to bring the enemy’s strategy out into the open, remembering that ‘we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers’ (Eph 6:12). This is where wisdom comes in, and our conversation and actions towards someone who is being used or influenced by the enemy, must be with love. They of course, are accountable for their responses. Sometimes this can be awkward, uncomfortable and with an outcome you can only leave in God’s hands.
Discernment is given as a weapon to protect us against the strategies of the enemy. It is not a gift for the judgement of others. Using the gift of discernment is not being super spiritual. It is using a tool God has made available to bring warning and protection to His people. Love without discernment in some instances can be serious folly. Love with discernment recognises that every one of us is vulnerable because of our weaknesses and brokenness to being influenced by the enemy, AND YET we love because He first loved us. Our response is always to be one of honor, respect and love. We cannot take offence, and we must walk in forgiveness if it is needed. It is God’s role to bring any correction and our role to pray blessing and freedom into any situation where we have discerned the enemy at work.
Discernment and love walking together can get complicated but we have the Holy Spirit and the Wisdom of God to walk us through it.
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