As Christians we are not to be judgmental of others but we must have good judgement or discernment. So how do you know the difference? It's all about your heart and your motive. When you make a judgment about someone's actions are you doing it with the intent to harm them and make yourself look more righteous? That's being judgmental. Or are you doing it because what they are doing is harmful and goes against God's Word and his command to be set apart ? Then that's having good judgment or a discerning heart. Jesus said that we are to "judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24) or we will be condemned by God's Word and find ourselves behaving like "a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness" (Proverbs 30:12). We make judgments everyday in all areas of our lives....what we eat, what we watch on TV, what music we listen to, what we wear, how best to spend the resources that God has given us, how to spend our time, etc. There is so much in this world that can destroy us and our families that we have to be vigilant and discerning in our choices. We must hold things up to the standard of the Bible. That's not always popular with others, even other Christians.
As a parent, I want to train my children to have a spirit of discernment so that they can know what is right or wrong according to God's Word. Hebrews 4:12 says "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." In order to know what God says about something we must study His word....The Bible. "That your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." (Phil. 1:9-11).
There are so many decisions that families are faced with that require discernment. One of the biggest ones for kids is their choice of friends. "Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals." (1 Cor. 10:33). "Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm." (Prov. 13:20) "Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare." (Prov. 22:24-25) It is important for my children to know that when they spend their time with "bad friends" they will become like them. We have and will continue to limit their time with friends who are a bad influence on them. My children attend public school and are exposed to lots of ungodly and immoral behaviors from their classmates and some of their teachers. It is vital to their spiritual well-being that we spend time as a family studying God's Word together and learning how He wants us to live in this world. Romans 12:2 says "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." I tell my children that they must look different from the world in their actions, attitudes, speech and behavior so their classmates and teachers will know that there is something different about them. "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set and example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." (1 Tim. 4:12)
Our family life also requires daily spiritual discernment in what we choose to put into our minds. This comes in the form of what we listen to, what we watch, what we read, and what we think about. "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable---if anything is excellent or praiseworthy---think about such things." (Phil. 4:8) "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." (Prov. 4:23) What we put into our minds is what will come out of our mouths and will be evidenced by our actions. "The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart hiws mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45)
Another important area where spiritual discernment is needed is in our choice of clothing. As the mother of 3 boys and 1 girl, I see the importance from 2 perspectives. For my boys, choosing clothing is pretty straightforward. The difficulty for my boys is what they see the girls at their school, church and community wear. Plus all the billboards, magazine ads, and tv commercials that bombard them. I've trained all my boys...even the 9 yr old....to cover their eyes or look away from the tv when any commercial comes on showing a female half-dressed or just in her undergarments. In 1 John 2:16 it says "For the world offers only the craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world." These are the temptations that both men and women must be on guard against. But God has designed men to be more visual. In Proverbs 7:10 it says "And there a woman met him with the attire of a harlot and a crafty heart". Why does the Bible specifically draw attention to the way the woman was dressed? Because it is one of the main ways that men are tempted. In Job 31:1, Job said "I have made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman." And where did King David's trouble with Bathsheba begin? When he saw her bathing and was tempted. Young men must continuously guard their eyes and their hearts from the temptations that bombard them everyday. They must discern what they will put in front of their eyes...."I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. I will set no wicked thing before my eyes". (Ps. 101:2-3) As Christian moms and young ladies we should take seriously how we dress at church so that our men and boys can have one place of respite from the onslaught of visual temptation.
For my daughrter, I want to teach her to dress modestly and to understand the reasons why based on God's Word. The first reason is because of what it says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 "Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God wth your body." I want her to respect herself and God enough that she wants to help others have the right perception of her. I want others to see that she is a strong Christian young lady who loves God and honors him with her body. What she chooses to wear will impact that. The second reason is that I do not want boys to be thinking aout having sex with her instead of listening to what she is saying. Research by Shaunti Feldhan revealed that when boys see a girl showing lots of skin they begin to think about what she looks like naked. When girls wear short shorts, low cut tops, undergarments as tops and tight shirts that don't hide much it makes it difficult for a boy to concentrate on what the girl is saying or doing. I want my daughter to respect herself and the young men she comes in contact with and not tempt them. I do not want her to make it harder for them to resist temptation.
Discernment about clothing begins in the heart. In John MacArthur's commentary on 1 Timothy, he made this statement about the heart, "How does a woman discern the sometimes fine line between proper dress and dressing to be the center of attention? The answer starts in the intent of the heart. A woman should examine her motives and goals for the way she dresses. Is her intent to show the grace and beauty of womanhood? Is it to reveal a humble heart devoted to worshipping God? Or, is it to call attention to herself and flaunt her beauty, or worse to attempt to lure men sexually? A woman who focuses on worshipping God will consider carefully how she is dressed, because her heart will dictate her wardrobe and her appearance."
Discernment is a heart issue. It begins in the heart and it is expressed externally in our actions, our attitudes and our appearance. God always sees our external actions as expression of what is in our heart. Things on the inside will eventually be manifested outwardly. (Mark 7:20-23) Our goal as Christians is two-fold. First we are to glorify God in every area of our lives. (1 Cor.10:31) Secondly we are to live in a way that is pleasing to God. (2 Cor. 5:9) We please God by loving Him, worshipping Him, obeying Him, practicing righteous judgment, and by loving purity and righteousness. If we want to live our lives pleasing to God then we will be concerned with reflecting what is right and what is pure in our personal lives.
There are many things in this world that we can become obsessed with. Many people are obsessed with the "American Dream". They work and work to aquire more posessions, more power and more prestige. They are obsessed with the clothes they wear, the cars they drive, the balance of their bank account and the size of the house they live in. Some are obsessed with their children and doing everything to make sure the kids are always happy. They make the kids their central and primary focus. Others are obsessed with politics and elections. They're consumed with their candidate and his message of change. Some are obsessed with baseball, soccer, football or some other sport or sport's team. Certain times of the year I am guilty of becoming obsessed with football. As the mom of a high school & youth football player, July through November is consumed by all things football. Add to that being a good southern girl and SEC fan and you have the makings of an obsession.
I've been challenged recently by Francis Chan's book "Crazy Love" to ask the question "Am I obsessed with Jesus Christ?" Chan defines obsessed as someone having their mind excessively preoccupied with a single emotion or topic. He goes further to describe what the life of a person who is obsessed with Christ truly looks like. Those who are obsessed with Christ see the world differently. They see it like Jesus does. They see those who are hurting or are in need and they take action to respond with God's love. They give up some type of worldy comfort so those who have nothing can have something. They give extravagantly and abundantly from what God has given to them. People who are obsessed with Christ are more focused on eternity rather than having the best life in the here and now. Their lives don't make sense to others around them but they don't seem to mind. People who are obsessed with Christ are more concerned with obeying God than with fitting in with the world around them.
If we become obsessed with Christ then we will have a committed and passionate love for God and His Word. We will serve Him with joy. We will love those who hate us. We will continuously seek God's Word for nourishment and guidance in our day-to-day choices. We won't try to hide our sin and failures from God and put on a show for Him. He is our place of peace and refuge. When we become obsessed with Jesus Christ then we are more concerned with character rather than comfort. We will stand up for what is right in God's sight no matter the consequences. When we become obsessed with Jesus Christ we will find true joy because we know that true joy does not come from what's going on around us; it is a gift that comes from knowing and loving God.
What is your obsession? Are you obsessed with the things of this world? Or are you obsessed with Jesus Christ?
Steven Curtis Chapman's prayer in his song "Magnificent Obsession" beautifully expresses the desires of a person obsessed with Jesus Christ:
Everything my heart desires Lord, I want it all to be for You,
Jesus Be my magnificent obsession
So capture my heart again
Take me to depths I’ve never been
Into the riches of Your grace and Your mercy
Return me to the cross And let me be completely lost
In the wonder of the love That You’ve shown me
Cut through these chains that tie me down to so many lesser things
Let all my dreams fall to the ground Until this one remains
You are everything I want You are everything I need
I want You to be my one consuming passion
I know that the Christmas season has passed, but I just have to share the joy of what our amazing God did for our family in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Shortly after Thanksgiving, we had a conversation with the kids about how this Christmas was going to be different than what they might be expecting due to Rich's unemployment. They would not be getting the big expensive gift that they really wanted. It wasn't going to be financially possible. We talked about the importance of still travelling to spend the week with extended family in Georgia. It was something we were all looking forward to and knew that it was what we all really wanted for Christmas. With the help of a generous friend we knew the travel expenses would be taken care of. The kids made new lists of smaller items that they were wanting or needing. We were praying and asking God to provide the money needed to pay the bills, put gas in the vehicles and buy groceries. We were trusting Him to provide and He did!!
While waiting for unemployment to be processed, the swim & diving team that Rich helps coach collected money to give to the coaches for Christmas. Rich was given the exact amount that I regularly spend on groceries each week. Then two different families blessed us by purchasing brand new basketball shoes for two of the kids for Upward. And that was just the beginning. A few days later a friend from church handed us a Christmas card and said "Merry Christmas". Upon opening the card later that evening we were surprised by what we found.....a very generous cash gift. A few days later I received my paycheck for my independent contracting work. The company had paid me earlier than normal for several jobs, which made my check larger than expected. But God wasn't done yet. Three days before Christmas....the day we were leaving for Georgia....another friend from church gave us small gift bags full of gift cards for various locations. At this point, we were realizing that God was not just providing for our household needs but also for the wants of our children.
Christmas morning was such a special time for our family. Before joining my extended family to open gifts, we took some time with just the 6 of us. We did not want the opportunity to tell about God's amazing love to get lost in the chaos. After they opened their gift, they all had basically the same question "How?". We proceeded to share with them exactly how God had provided the money to pay the household expenses, the travel expenses and even provided more than enough to purchase the gifts they wanted. That morning made a huge impact on my children and their understanding of how much God cares about EVERYTHING in our lives. They were able to see several verses of the Bible come to life in practical ways in their own lives. And to this mom, that is the best Christmas gift of all!!!!
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:4-7
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, a VBS crafter, a coupon clipper, a thrift store shopper, a football fan, a cook, a student of the Bible and an avid reader.