Lacking discernment? This post is for you!
Reader’s Note: This is part 6 of a series on masculinity.
Length: 2,700 words
Reading Time: 9 minutes
The Importance of Discernment
A previous post On the discernment and wisdom of true morality (2019 February 2) covered the nature and importance of discernment. (This is one of my better posts, IMHO.) If you are confused about the difference between judgment and discernment and how it is applied, then I encourage you to click on those three links in this paragraph and read up on these subjects. They are very important concepts in the life of a believer.
Estaque de Harbour, by Georges Braque, 1906.
King Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived (aside from Jesus). The story of his ascension to king identifies discernment as a key characteristic of his successes [emphasis mine].
3 Now Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David, except that he was sacrificing and burning incense on the high places. 4 And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, because that was the great high place; Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5 In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night; and God said, “Ask what you wish Me to give you.”
6 Then Solomon said, “You have shown great faithfulness to Your servant David my father, according as he walked before You in truth, righteousness, and uprightness of heart toward You; and You have reserved for him this great faithfulness, that You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. 7 And now, Lord my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am like a little boy; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. 9 So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, to discern between good and evil. For who is capable of judging this great people of Yours?”
10 Now it was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing. 11 And God said to him, “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked for yourself a long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the lives of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, 12 behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you. 13 I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days. 14 And if you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days.”1st Kings 3:3-14 (NASB)
Solomon must’ve had a speck of wisdom even before making this request, otherwise, he would not have known to ask for discernment. It was wise of him to ask this of God, because discernment is something that only God can grant.
Balustre et Cranem, by Georges Braque, 1938.
The Nature of Discernment
Solomon wrote (or compiled) three books of the bible, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. These three books, and Solomon’s story in 1st Kings 3:3-14, all speak to the nature and importance of wisdom.
In Proverbs 8, Solomon describes the nature and importance of wisdom and discernment.
1 Does not wisdom call,
And understanding raise her voice?
2 On top of the heights beside the way,
Where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
3 Beside the gates, at the opening to the city,
At the entrance of the doors, she cries out:
4 “To you, people, I call,
And my voice is to mankind.
5 You naïve ones, understand prudence;
And, you fools, understand wisdom!
6 Listen, for I will speak noble things;
And the opening of my lips will reveal right things.
7 For my mouth will proclaim truth;
And wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
8 All the words of my mouth are in righteousness;
There is nothing crooked or perverted in them.
9 They are all straightforward to him who understands,
And right to those who find knowledge.
10 Accept my instruction and not silver,
And knowledge rather than choice gold.
11 For wisdom is better than jewels;
And all desirable things cannot compare with her.
12 “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
And I find knowledge and discretion.
13 The fear of the Lord is to hate evil;
Pride, arrogance, the evil way,
And the perverted mouth, I hate.
14 Advice is mine and sound wisdom;
I am understanding, power is mine.
15 By me kings reign,
And rulers decree justice.
16 By me princes rule, and nobles,
All who judge rightly.
17 I love those who love me;
And those who diligently seek me will find me.
18 Riches and honor are with me,
Enduring wealth and righteousness.
19 My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold;
And my yield better than choice silver.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness,
In the midst of the paths of justice,
21 To endow those who love me with wealth,
That I may fill their treasuries.
The Meditation, by Nattawat, 2018.
22 “The Lord created me at the beginning of His way,
Before His works of old.
23 From eternity I was established,
From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth.
24 When there were no ocean depths, I was born,
When there were no springs abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains were settled,
Before the hills, I was born;
26 While He had not yet made the earth and the fields,
Nor the first dust of the world.
27 When He established the heavens, I was there;
When He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep,
28 When He made firm the skies above,
When the springs of the deep became fixed,
29 When He set a boundary for the sea
So that the water would not violate His command,
When He marked out the foundations of the earth;
30 Then I was beside Him, as a master workman;
And I was His delight daily,
Rejoicing always before Him,
31 Rejoicing in the world, His earth,
And having my delight in the sons of mankind.
32 “Now then, sons, listen to me,Proverbs 8 (NASB)
For blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Listen to instruction and be wise,
And do not neglect it.
34 Blessed is the person who listens to me,
Watching daily at my gates,
Waiting at my doorposts.
35 For one who finds me finds life,
And obtains favor from the Lord.
36 But one who sins against me injures himself;
All those who hate me love death.”
Yes, wisdom is finer than rubies. Above all else, seek the wisdom that comes through discernment, and the peace in God that surpasses all knowledge.
But here, I need to emphasize a crucial point that is often neglected. The wisdom of God which Solomon desired, and which plays a critical difference in the life of a believer today, is not a worldly kind of wisdom. It is not about being “street smart” (although this can certainly come in handy). No, the wisdom of God is largely centered around discernment – the ability to pick out falsehood, foolishness, lies, and deception, to intuitively sense the nature of a thing, and familiarity in knowing how this thing will behave in any given context. Without discernment, there can be no wisdom. Without discernment, one cannot grow in the knowledge of the Truth. Without discernment, one cannot even be obedient to God. In fact, some degree of discernment is necessary just to be able to trust God.
Thusly, to focus only on wisdom, and the power and benefits thereof, is a sin. For it is discernment which allows the wisdom of God and all of its blessings to manifest.
In the context of the Red Pill, discernment is absolutely necessary to establish a strong Frame. In fact, discernment is the foundation of Frame. In past writings here at Σ Frame, we found that a man’s ability to discern a woman’s IOIs is crucial in developing a viable Christian relationship characterized by Headship. Without discernment, it is impossible for a man to pick through the riff raff, see through the feminine fluff, and find a ruby.
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, By Pablo Picasso, 1907.
Three Kinds of Discernment
In Three Kinds of Discernment (2020 September 25), we identified and discussed three types of discernment, Spiritual Discernment (SD), Cognitive Discernment (CD), and Social/Emotional Discernment (ED). A brief review follows.
- Spiritual Discernment (SD) is known as the “discerning of spirits”, the gift of special and deep understanding what is of God and what is not, and the ability of “rightly dividing the word of Truth”. This is the “discerning heart” requested by Solomon, and which is imparted by the Holy Spirit.
- Cognitive Discernment (CD) has less to do with the spiritual world, and more akin to having a sound mind. It requires an ability to detect whether an argument is either sound or debased, and the sharp wit required to articulate a truthful response. This includes a basic understanding of cause-and-effect, causal feedback loops. It requires the ability to look past what appears to be so and get to what actually is. Critical thinking, and inductive and/or deductive reasoning are employed when appropriate, but there is also the recognition that deductive reasoning doesn’t necessarily always lead to the Truth.
- Social/Emotional Discernment (ED) is (1) an ability to connect with others on an emotional, heart-felt level, and (2) Theory of Mind (something which Autistic individuals are incapable of experiencing). It involves understanding figures of speech (e.g. metaphor, sarcasm), being able to sense whether someone is sincere, or lying, or sincerely lying, or is just joking around. This also includes reading the social and/or sexual interest and intent of others, and being able to detect and read IOI’s.
Later in this post, I’ll identify each item on the list as to whether it yields SD, CD, or ED.
Finally, here is the list of things that increase discernment.** Ultimately, it is the intervention of the Holy Spirit that imparts discernment, but the following things can certainly help.
- Academic Pursuits – This includes reading the Bible especially. This habit serves to discipline and train the mind, which must be brought into subjection to the heart and will. The mind must serve the heart, and not the other way around.
- Archetypal Mythos — Having a strong clear sense of personal mythos gives a man a sense of purpose and a frame of discernment. It creates a clearly defined psychological boundary between one’s inner world, and the messy world out there. In other words, it helps a man Develop an Attitude of Detachment (2020 July 10).
- Authenticity – Dwelling in reality, and looking at life and one’s self for what it is, rather than for what one wants it to be.
- Conflict* – Just as iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17), and two sparring gladiators continually refine their skills through combat, continual interpersonal altercations increase one’s sense of immediate, situational discernment. Of note, marriage is chock full of conflict.
- Experiencing the Presence of God — The event that helped build the aspect of Scott’s personal mythos that concerns women and marriage was described in his post, How I discovered that I wanted to be married (2020 April 27). Essentially, he discovered the presence of God in his friend’s parent’s relationship, and he wanted that for himself.
- Fellowship – Male bonding characterized by confidentiality, deep authentic sincerity, honesty, trust, and some degree of loyalty, is necessary for a man to “get real”. This can help you open your heart, face your inner self, and know yourself better. Ideally, a brotherhood of authentic fellowship should lead to confession, repentance, renewal, and the inspiration of its members.
- Opening your heart in trust and humility – Being attentive to metaphysical forces such as confidence, courage, desire, faith, fear, hope, inspiration, and trust can improve awareness, as well as paying more attention to various human and spiritual needs, and the accompanying nuances of gratitude and grace.
- Prayer/Meditation – Prayer can bring your frame of mind into alignment with God’s will.
* I do not encourage readers to seek out or create conflict merely for the purpose of building discernment, but only to be aware of this benefit whenever conflict arises in the course of living.
** Notice that LSD, mushrooms, and other psychoactive recreational drugs are not on this list, even though they do increase discernment. The reason they are not included is because these things aid the development of discernment from Satan’s perspective, which is severely counterproductive to the life of a believer. Obtaining discernment in this manner is what the Bible calls sorcery, and it is forbidden and condemned in scripture.
Tete de Femme, by Georges Braque and André Derain, 1939.
In this section, I’ll go over which kind of discernment (SD, CD, or ED) can be expected from each of these engagements.
- Academic Pursuits – This has an immediate impact on CD, but when the topic of study includes spiritually oriented resources (i.e. the Bible), it can affect SD as well.
- Archetypal Mythos – This affects ED because it creates clearly defined social and psychological boundaries which must be guarded and enforced. When these are regularly practiced, it can increase ones SD. An interaction with trusted or exceptionally astute individuals can improve one’s CD.
- Authenticity – An honest assessment of one’s life and self, and facing one’s desires and fears tends to improve SD. Depending on the issue, it can also improve CD because it affects how one thinks about things, and/or ED because it impacts relationships.
- Conflict – This serves to refine ED foremost, but over time and with the aid of other practices listed here, conflict can sharpen one’s wits (CD), and induce humility, which can increase SD.
- Experiencing the Presence of God – Being aware of how God is involved in all things will improve SD immensely. It improves CD in the sense that it makes one aware of how the mind is fundamentally out of touch. If this awareness is accompanied by a sense of peace and inner renewal then it can change how one views others, and this has an indirect effect on SD.
- Fellowship – In all cases, male bonding has an immediate effect on ED. If the interaction is characterized by confidentiality, deep authentic sincerity, honesty, trust, and some degree of loyalty, then it is possible for a man to get in tune with his SD in the form of “getting real”. If the interaction involves a technical field or a plan of action, then this can refine one’s CD.
- Opening your heart in trust and humility – This is the key element of SD, and without it, SD is impossible. Without this, ED is also impossible outside of visually observable cues and indicators.
- Prayer/Meditation – This has the most immediate impact on SD and CD. ED is affected by extension.
Perhaps the most overlooked sin is the conceit of wishing everything to be much different than what it is to the point of checking out of life. It’s a sin because it is basically a patent rejection of all wisdom and discernment. Even if what one wants is for everything to be like what God intended for it to be, if one rejects reality in favor of a dream world, and if one focuses all his efforts into convincing or forcing himself and others to be more obedient to God to that end, then he is still descending into a sinful preference for “perfection” and a solipsistic ease of mind. It is sinful because it obviates any expression of faith.
Ironically (and somewhat surprisingly), this also means that, for many Christians, their applied faith is also their sin. It is a sin because they are using Biblical principles to reject the existential truth of reality and are failing to apply God’s truth towards the renewal of their minds and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. This can easily morph into legalism (AKA pharisaicalism), which Jesus roundly condemned.
- Oswald Chambers: The Gateway to the Kingdom (1917 July 21)
- Σ Frame (Novaseeker): Viewpoints on Man’s Confusion about How God Works in the Life of a Believer (2021 March 29)
- Σ Frame (Jack): A Man’s Ability to Read IOIs Depends on Having a firm Archetypal Mythos (2021 June 18)