A God of Wisdom and Discernment
We know that God is a God of wisdom and discernment, as evidenced by Jesus’s actions, decisions and words, even with those who tried to discredit him. Steph Nickel reminds us that as Christians, we should seek God’s wisdom when confronted by nonbelievers.
Jesus asks a Question
Matthew 21:23-27 says:
“And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’ Jesus answered them, ‘I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?’ And they discussed it among themselves, saying, ‘If we say, “From heaven,” he will say to us, “Why then did you not believe him?” But if we say, “From man,” we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.’ So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.’”
Wisdom and discernment . . . these two traits marked Jesus’ every action, every decision, every word.
You would think He would use this opportunity to declare who He was, but that was not part of the plan.
When the authorities—who were not, by the way, interested in becoming followers of Christ—asked where His authority came from, He turned the tables on them. He knew what was in their hearts. He knew their motives and intentions—and they were not good.
Instead of giving them a direct answer, He asked them a question: “The baptism of John, where did it come from?”And they were at a loss for words. They feared the crowds and if they said John was baptizing of his own accord, the people would be angry. And the chief priests and elders highly valued their position as leaders. And as the saying goes, “You’re not a leader if no one is following.”
But the alternative was no better. If they said John baptized by God’s authority and John pointed people to Christ, then they knew Jesus could ask why they did not believe.
They had their strong opinions, but they really weren’t interested in getting at the truth or losing their influence, so they refused to answer. And so did Jesus.
God’s Wisdom and Discernment
As I mentioned at the outset, Jesus had flawless wisdom and discernment. He always knew what was in a person’s heart; He knew their deepest motivation—and He still does.
I know God gives us wisdom and discernment as well, but there are things that get in the way: lack of sleep, poor health, a bad attitude, failure to regularly study God’s Word (the source of spiritual insight and understanding), lack of prayer, personal prejudices, past hurts, and on and on and on.
When you factor these in, how can we apply the truths in this passage? How can we teach them to our children?
Know His Word
First, it is good to remember that we must saturate ourselves in God’s Word. It is as relevant today as it ever was, and it is often what the Holy Spirit brings to mind when we face questions of all kinds.
There are many times people aren’t truly seeking an answer. They are simply trying to trip us up. They want to poke holes in what we, as Christians, believe. They want to discredit us to lessen our influence.
In many cases, they will know the so-called facts on any given subject better than we do. Our assurance and confidence can’t come from being able to win an argument. If we enter into that kind of debate, they will often gain the upper hand and may accomplish at least some of what they set out to do.
Our confidence must be in the Lord God and our assurance must be in the truth of His Word, the Bible. There will be times it is right to enter into dialogue—calmly, lovingly, respectfully. There will be other times the only thing we can do is walk away. We must rest in the truth, even when others don’t believe it and do all they can to make us upset or angry.
Ask for God’s Wisdom
We must remain prayerful. It is important to spend time devoted solely to prayer in this day and age that glorifies so-called multitasking. This also means we must walk away from the electronic world for a time and seek nothing and no one but the Lord God. Single-minded focus is invaluable—and for many of us must be practiced.
I finished writing this devotional on Sunday afternoon after church. The pastor made some insightful comments that fit perfectly with this portion of God’s Word. He said that unbelievers will not like what we have to say. In fact, they may become defensive and antagonistic if, by our words and deeds, we are standing up for what is right, holy, true, and good.
Jesus didn’t try to change these men’s minds. He simply rested in the truth and challenged them to come to their own conclusions. He didn’t try to win their approval but neither was He argumentative.
Do we know Jesus, the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life? Are we secure in Him? Are we wise enough not to get involved in futile arguments but stand uncompromisingly on the Word of God?
As individuals and as a family, let’s call on God to strengthen us and give us the wisdom and discernment we need to face those who don’t believe as we do.
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Woe unto You, Scribes and Pharisees- James Tissot