God never gives us discernment in order that
we may criticize, but that we may intercede.
I was appalled. I could hardly believe the story he was describing. It was as foreign an approach to the situation he was recounting as to be unbelievable. I could not imagine that he was responding to the individual in the manner he described. It was the exact opposite of what I would have done. Furthermore, I could have provided him with several biblical references as to what the scriptures would have to say on the subject. Usually he asked my advice, or at least what I thought about his decisions. But not this time. He even seemed proud of his response to his friend which had resulted in further hurt and estrangement from one to whom he was attempting to serve and influence. I kept waiting for a chance to speak or an invitation to share my thoughts with him but the opportunity did not present itself. I was fully prepared to correct him for his handling of the situation which he presented. It was only after thinking about the above conversation for nearly a week that I remembered Ray Hoo’s statement from a conference he had given years before. He had quoted from Oswald Chambers; “God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.” My Utmost for His Highest, Nov 23.
What does it mean to intercede? The clearest description of intercession in our lives is that of prayer. As I thought about prayer in regard to this situation, I realized that I needed to pray in at least three areas. The first of these was prayer for myself and my attitude toward my friend. Was I being too judgmental? Was there some basis for his response which I did not understand? Were I in his shoes would I have responded differently? Periodically I am reminded of the verse in Romans 14:4. “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stand or falls. And he will stand for the Lord is able to make him stand.” This verse always gives me pause when I want to speak out to someone about something. I am reminded of the words of G. Campbell Morgan when he remarked. “The fullness of the Spirit is more often manifested by keeping one’s mouth shut than by what it says when it is open.”
The second need of intercession in prayer is that the Lord would personally bring direction and counsel to my friend in this situation. Colossians 4:12 describes this intercession as follows. “Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” I need to intercede that the will of God will be made known to my friend, and that he becomes fully assured that he is on the correct path in his relationships with others. Further intercession on his behalf would be that the Lord would continue His work in his life to lead to his maturity in Christ. In this prayer, I recognize that it is the Lord’s responsibility ultimately, and not mine, to bring about the formation of discipleship in his life.
The third area in which I needed to intercede was in asking for wisdom in my eventual response to my friend concerning the matter described. What should I say? How should I say it? What attitude toward him should I convey? Ephesians 4:29 states. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” The KJV version is also helpful. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” According to this verse there are only two choices in communication. I can either choose that which is corrupt and unwholesome, or that which will minister grace and be helpful in building him up according to his needs. I should speak the truth in love with acceptance and encouragement. What words and scriptures would the Lord desire I should use to build him up according to his needs? I am confident that the Lord will answer that intercessory prayer as I wait on Him.
Has the Lord given us discernment about situations, individuals, plans or programs of organization or churches? If so, it is well to remember that others do not need our critique as much as they need our prayers. Are we able, by His Grace, to remember to speak to the Lord before we speak to others? May His Grace empower us all as we intercede with Him for ourselves and others.
In Christ, Richard Spann