Discernment vs. Judgment

Growing up as a fundamentalist Christian, I spent most of my younger years being very judgmental, with the nobel goal of being “in the world but not of it” and trying to help others “see the light.”  I had to live my life to very high standards and, by golly, so should everyone else.  I was especially hard on other Christians who “stumbled.”

The weird thing is, I didn’t see it as being judgmental.  The world, in my mind, was very black and white, and so of course there were some things you just did not do.  It was that simple.

Obviously, as I got older I began to realize that nothing in life is really that simple, that even with the best of intentions, we all still stumble and fall.

But it wasn’t until quite recently that I began to understand more about my own character and how both judgment and discernment (see side note below) are part of how I express myself and interact with the world.

While I’ve learned to see that side of me as negative, along came someone who said that discernment is a positive aspect of my character.  I had to do a double take on that one…how can you possibly put a positive spin on this personality trait that I’ve been working so hard to get rid of.  Turns out that, channeled correctly, the ability to judge ideas and situations quickly can be an asset.  I’m not sure I can fully communicate how much of a weight that lifted off of me.  I can avoid being judgmental, but I don’t need to completely give up that part of my personality, the part that has allowed me to look at the big picture, assess all the information I have, make a quick decision about the direction I want to take, and begin working to make that happen.

On a brief side note about discernment, it is considered one of the Gifts of the Spirit, right up there with speaking in tongues and healing, but is not really taught much in the churches I attended growing up.  Conceptually, it’s the ability to judge well between things and to gain greater spiritual insight.  In practice, it’s when someone seems to have supernatural insight into a person’s life with the goal of encouraging (or admonishing) them in their walk with God.

On another side note, if this post has intrigued you as to how I gained this insight into my own character, check out Carol Tuttle’s website and book on beauty profiling.  I’m not entirely sold on the whole idea, which she would tell you is exactly in keeping with my “energy type” but her book has some really great information about how what you might consider a flaw is actually a beautiful part of your type of beauty.



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