Discernment Addendum

In his sermon yesterday, my pastor, Dale Burke, pointed out an interesting fact from the scripture passage we were studying, Luke 12:13-34. One disgruntled, and apparently greedy, person demanded that Jesus arbitrate a dispute. As part of Jesus’s answer to the guy, He told a parable in which the central character dialogued with himself.

The man was a rich landowner and experienced a further blessing: his harvest produced a bumper crop. As a result, “he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do …’ ”

Later, he talked to his soul: ” ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come …’ ”

My pastor’s first point was that the rich man was talking to the wrong person about his situation—himself instead of God.

Lo and behold, when I began reading the book of Ecclesiastes this morning, I found the same thing. Chapter two starts out, “I said to myself …”

So how often, I wonder, am I talking to myself instead of talking to God? I think this is especially important in our postmodern culture that advocates “looking within” for the answers to just about everything.

Seems to me, God wants our eyes on Him instead.

The Psalmist asked God to search him and try him and see if there was any wicked way in him. He didn’t say he would examine himself to see if there was any wicked way.

Left to myself, looking within is fraught with deception and wishful thinking.

Why would I want to look within when I can look to God who is omnipotent, all knowing, wise, and good? How silly for me to rely on the fallible, selfish, narrow-minded, incomplete counsel I give myself. 🙄

The key to discernment, then, is to ask God to reveal His perspective rather than trying to ferret out truth from my own partial and imperfect attitudes, beliefs, and ideas.

And of course, God has already revealed His perspective in His Word, so I need to pray for His Spirit to open the eyes of my heart to understand and apply what He has revealed.

With God’s perspective in mind and by asking for His counsel and wisdom, I can approach the task of analyzing what I read and see, trusting that He will supply the discernment I need.

Published in: on March 1, 2010 at 1:41 pm  Comments (3)  
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3 Comments

  1. Oh gee. I’m not sure if the guy was apparently greedy. Disgruntled yes, but not greedy. This is one of my pet peeves with Biblical exegesis…the way people assume the worst of certain characters in the Bible. It shows a judgmental heart, I think. Not you…but in the way we view Bible characters and that leads to the way we view contemporary believers. Whether it’s Michal, Ishmael, etc…I get the feeling that many Christians look for a chance to assume the worse of people in the Bible. A kind of scapegoating and sacred cowing that removes the person from ourselves. As if IF WE OURSELVES WERE IN THAT POSITION WE WOULD BEHAVE SO MUCH DIFFERENTLY. It is quite possible this man was not greedy at all. He’s saying to Jesus, “m

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  2. Oh gee…clicked before I finished.

    I was just saying that He’s saying to Jesus, “My brother has cheated me. He’s not sharing the inheritance with me.”

    Who among us have not said to Jesus, “Jesus, talk to my brother/boss/neighbor and let him treat me fairly.” True, it’s a human desire to have justice about a monetary situation…especially one which might be quite apparently a righteous cause…but when we seek to see sin in a Bible personnage’s action, we don’t look at them with love.

    I think that Jesus is saying that even in a good cause which concerns money we must be careful. God is not the god of mammon and many Christians talk to him about that, an earthly thing…when they should suffer themselves to be defrauded.

    The perspective here is not of greed but of allowing one’s self to be wronged. Thus Jesus doesn’t rebuke one person of his sin of greed…but he rebukes a justly-wronged person about holding to the offense. In the long run, money doesn’t matter.

    But as I said…when we seek to find sin in certain Bible characters we miss the larger picture and we show that we are not being lovable… because we’re imputing grievious sin to a person where the text is unclear. And that’s what we must learn to do…to not assume something and say it is apparent in the text. Sometimes it’s only apparent in our sinful unloving human hearts. Again, not saying you’re unloving…but that the Christian mindset often does this kind of thing in Bible studies…especially to characters whom they think Jesus was rebuking. (Sorry to be so snippy but I have this same issue with people assuming that the rich young ruler went away grieved because he had many possessions… BECAUSE HE LOVED HIS RICHES MORE THAN JESUS. We can easily assume the rich man went away grieved because he loved his riches and was preparing to get rid of them. Since we don’t know….we shouldn’t look at the text in only one way. -C

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  3. Hi, Carol, thanks for your input. I certainly agree with your overall point: we shouldn’t jump to conclusions about what the Bible is saying as a result of projecting ourselves and our responses into the story.

    In this instance, however, I think my pastor made a good case for the guy being greedy. I’ve been noticing all the way through Luke how Jesus answered peoples comments or questions, then told a story to illustrate what He meant. In this instance, right after He asked who made Him arbitrator, he followed up by saying to the same audience, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed.” Then he told a parable that addressed greed, after which he taught about worrying about money and about storing up treasure in heaven.

    It could be that the guy who asked the original question was merely worrying about money and not greedy, but it’s clear his focus was on money when it should have been on God. Maybe narrowing his sin to “greed” is too limiting, but I’d say his heart problem was in the money camp. 😉

    Becky

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