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Discretion is an Important Part of the Christian Life

The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that discretion means "The quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offense or revealing private information." To put it more generally, discretion is the ability to think and act in a way that shows understanding. We show discretion in the movies we watch, the company we keep, the news articles we read, and many other areas every day. The question we are faced with is: are we using good discretion? Our world today seeks to impose upon us a certain type of discretion. This can be clearly seen in things like pronoun usage. The culture would tell you that we need to use someone's preferred pronouns in order to not cause offense. Again, the question is whether or not this is using good discretion. By good discretion, I am referring to what scripture means when it uses the word.

Discretion in scripture

The concept of discretion in the Bible goes beyond the mere mention of the word itself. It is intricately woven into the fabric of wisdom and understanding throughout the Scriptures. In the book of Proverbs, which is rich in teachings on wisdom, discretion is highlighted as a crucial aspect of making sound judgments. The repeated coupling of discretion with understanding, knowledge, and wisdom underscores the importance of these qualities working together harmoniously. This interplay is exemplified in verses like Proverbs 3:21, where the instruction is to hold on to both wisdom and discretion, emphasizing their inseparable nature. Similarly, Proverbs 8:12 personifies wisdom as dwelling with prudence and seeking knowledge and discretion, reinforcing the idea that true wisdom encompasses the exercise of discretion. Therefore, biblical discretion is not merely about making decisions cautiously, but about making informed and wise choices rooted in a deep understanding of God's principles and truths.

A Practical Example

It is all well and good to say that discretion is important and that good discretion depends on knowledge, but without some practical examples, it can be difficult to fully understand. Let us take a look at the example we looked at in the introduction: pronoun usage. On the surface, something like pronoun usage seems relatively benign. After all, what harm does it do to allow someone to be called by a different pronoun? The issue is that it is comfort at the expense of truth. Let's look at this by applying the logic of pronoun usage to some other personal description. The logic is that a person can decide for themselves what pronouns they wish to be called by. A man can decide that he would rather be called she, her, or even them. But what happens when we use this same idea of self-determination for something else? What happens when someone decides they want to be called a professor or doctor without the requisite qualifications? The logic starts to fall apart. Someone who is called a doctor, either MD, PhD, or DMin, is someone who has been recognized by others to have a certain level of education and experience. They are, in a sense, experts in their fields of study. This comes with a certain level of expectation. If you go to someone who claims to be a medical doctor and they do not have the qualifications, real harm can result. Again, the heart of the issue is truth.

Discretion in the Church

A place where discretion is often neglected is in the church, or by Christians in general. We hear that someone has claimed the title Christian and we think that everything that person says or does must be good. After all, Christians are called to be examples of holiness. A Christian movie is produced and many think it must be an accurate depiction of biblical truth because it is described as being Christian. Music is perhaps the most prolific example of this. A band claims to be a Christian worship band and so their songs must be good, right? After all, they are singing about God, and that makes it Christian, right? The problem is that when we accept something as Christian without testing it, we are showing a lack of discretion. We are ignoring the scriptural prescription to test everything so that we can hold fast to what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21). We are ignoring the warning of scripture that many false teachers will come among us and lead people astray (Matthew 24:11). These passages, and many others, should tell us to be on our guard.

A Plee for Discretion

Discretion is more important than ever for Christians. We are under assault both from inside the church and outside. We have been desensitized to sin in such a way that it does not even bother us anymore. Things like homosexuality, abortion, and adultery, which have been understood in previous ages to be immoral, are now seen as simply part of how things are. The culture not only is not disturbed by these things but openly endorses them. As Christians, we need discretion. We need to show discretion in the things that we read, watch, and listen to. We must hold fast to the truth. As Christians, we serve as an example of our Savior. He has not saved us to continue in the way that we were before but has called us out of death into life. So let your light shine so that all the world might see that Jesus is Lord. We must speak the truth in love, so that our Heavenly Father might be glorified. "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:1-3).

Soli Deo Gloria

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