A 40 Day Journey to Becoming Like the One We Follow
Day 28: Discernment (Mark 12:34)
Discernment is a word we don’t use all that often. I think we should bring it back. Discernment, in my understanding, is where investigation and intuition meet. It’s the conjunction of evidence and emotion. It requires wisdom, knowledge, and insight with a little bit of “IYKYK.”
Some of my favorite interactions between Jesus and others are the debates with the religious leaders. They think they’ve got a trap question, like “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar?” or “If a woman has seven husbands and they all die, then whose wife will she be in the resurrection?” But he always sees right through their ploy and knows their motives.
Sometimes he answers them in a way that shuts them up. Other times he simply refuses to take the bait.
But I also love the moments when an ordinary person is recognized by Jesus for their extraordinary faith or grasp of Scripture. The Centurion, the Canaanite woman, the Samaritan woman at the well, and the lawyer in Mark 12 all impressed Jesus. He knew they were genuine. He knew these people “got it” or were just on the verge of getting it.
John’s gospel gives us a little insight into this part of Jesus. He didn’t need to be told what kind of person someone was – he just knew. He knew the hearts of these men and women, whether they had strong faith or whether they were engaged in bad faith arguments.
Jesus had a way of finding a third and better answer to a two-option question. He encouraged his followers to be more nuanced, to see things from a new perspective, to recognize the fruit of certain lifestyles. He told his disciples to be “as innocent as doves and as shrewd as snakes.” Otherwise they (and we) might be tossed about like a ship in a storm.
Keep your head on a swivel. Pay attention – eyes up. Really listen to what people are saying (and aren’t saying). Practice good judgment so you won’t get swept up in the latest outrage. Try to see things from a different, higher, more heavenly perspective.