It’s not discernment, you’re just plain threatened.
I’ve been in the church for literally my whole life. I was born to pastor parents and grandparents, dedicated in the church before I could walk, saved, baptized, and married in a church. I now have the privilege of pastoring alongside my husband and it is the most fulfilling and beautiful thing to watch real life-change happen each week. Seeing as how I am a verifiable church life veteran, you would think I am waaaaay above all petty behaviors that can mar God’s beautiful design for His people of love and care. But I have a confession to make, friends: I am not.
Just the other day I was sitting and mad-thinking. Have you ever experienced mad-thinking? It’s a phenomena where you start off fine, begin to think about something, and stew on it until you’re just really mad. It can come seemingly out of no where and ruin an otherwise good mood. I’ve played the role of myself and many others in my mind and wound up angrier and angrier until I was consumed by my mad-thinking.
On this particular day, my mad-thinking was directed at someone who I felt was overstepping in a certain situation. I coaxed myself and self-licked my wounds and bemoaned about just how wronged I was and how frustrating it was that this person was doing things that only I was meant to be doing. I applauded my own key discernment and scoffed at others for their immaturity of celebrating something that only I could tell was not actually a good thing. Then I did some more mad-thinking about others and their worrying lack of discernment.
Ah, discernment. The old go-to for Christians when they want to pretty-up otherwise ugly emotions and instincts. You hate the new girl? Well, you could never say that directly, so instead, you just say that you have a “bad feeling” about her. Others will nod in “righteous” understanding while turning down their nose at said girl. After all, it’s not bad when it’s done in discernment. Or what about when we watch someone get promoted and find tons of morally justifiable reasons to do everything but rejoice for them? We use our “discernment” to cover up saying some pretty nasty thoughts and words and find ourselves feeling like we have the moral upper hand, even in light of some major judgment, accusation, and slander.
The other day in the midst of my mad-thinking, it hit me like a ton of bricks: I wasn’t feeling discernment about the situation, I was just plain threatened. My pride was feeling wounded, but I assumed I was far too mature to deal with something as petty as jealousy. So I simply put a spiritual label on it and kept my lip sneered under the guise of discernment and spiritual superiority.
God, help me.
We cannot continue this way. Jealousy, wounded pride, and feeling threatened will eat away at our peace. We cannot live in the strain of these ungodly emotions because it rips us away from the relationship God meant for us to experience with Him. He wants to see us live a life that flows in grace, but when I allow petty jealousies and emotions to get in my head and take over, it’s like putting up broken shards of glass that block me from His presence.
Let’s just confess it today: I feel threatened. My pride is fragile and I’m not nearly as spiritually together as I’d like to think I am. That said, recognizing those ugly things in myself is half of the battle. Once I see it, I can call it out, deal with it, and move on. Discernment is a very real and amazing spiritual gift, but it is not to be used as an excuse to cut into others and feel justified in doing so. God give me strength to distinguish between the two and to never abuse that gift.