‘The ability to perceive, recognize, and distinguish” is how Webster defines discernment. He says further that discernment is “the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure.” For many years, Swiss watchmakers dominated the market. Their reputation for building the best watches money could buy was unparalleled. By the 1940s, the Swiss produced 80% of all watches made worldwide. In the late 1960s, when an inventor presented an idea for a new type of watch to the leaders of a Swiss watch company, they flatly rejected it. Undeterred, the inventor approached other Swiss watchmakers, but everyone gave him the same negative response.

The inventor felt that digital had merit and could become the wave of the future, and thus he took the idea to Seiko in Japan. The owners of that company discerningly embraced the digital concept, and then manufactured and marketed their new product. Today 80% of all watches use a digital design!

The point is this: One discernment-driven decision has far-reaching effects and can change the entire course of things. In 1 Kings 3, we read that when given a chance to have anything in the world, Solomon asked God for “an understanding heart to discern between good and evil” (1 Kings 3:9), in order that he might lead well and make right decisions. Regarding Solomon’s request, the Life Application Bible says, “We can ask God for this same wisdom.” (James 1:5). “Notice that Solomon asked for discernment to carry out his job; he did not ask GOD to do the job for him. We should not ask God to do FOR us what He wants to do THROUGH us. Instead we should ask God to give us the wisdom to know what to DO, and the courage to FOLLOW THROUGH on it.”

Granted, Solomon received “a discerning heart” from God, but it was up to him to apply that wisdom to all areas of his life. In these days of moral degradation—of rampant wrong choices—of false teaching—of apostasy—how we need discerning hearts! May we be encouraged to know that the God who granted Solomon a discerning heart will do the same for us!

—Paul W. Brubaker
May/June 2011