Know HIS Ways……………

————–the Lord stood on a wall made with a plumb line

The Difference Between Judging and Discerning

Written By: Karline Fischer - Jul• 22•13

How is judging different from discerning?

Many times in the Christian circles, we use the word “judging” and “discerning” interchangeably, but when we look at the scriptures and the definition of those two words, we find very different uses for them.

To judge (G2919): to separate, put asunder, to pick out, select, choose

1) to approve, esteem, to prefer

2) to determine, resolve, decree

3) to be judged, i.e. summoned to trial that one’s case may be examined and judgment passed upon it

Biblically speaking to judge something,

  1. Someone is in a position of authority to judge someone or a situation
  2. They also have the responsibility to decree a judgment on the situation.

God used Moses in this capacity as he sat as judge over the people of Israel while he also had other representatives who judged people under him.

Solomon as King had the authority to judge over the matters of people’s lives and declare the outcome of a situation. This is why he asked for wisdom, so he can judge uprightly before a holy God.

You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me. John 8:15-16

And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. John 12:47-48

When we look at the above scriptures, we see that Jesus declared that He didn’t come to judge the world, but to save it. He had the power and authority to judge the world, but His purpose in His first coming was to save the world from sin, hell, and judgment. Judgment will be passed over those who accept Him and receive Him. For those who don’t receive him, there will be judgment in the last day, and there will be no redemption left for the ones who choose to reject him.

Jesus knew Judas’ plan, but he didn’t judge him. He didn’t tell other disciples what Judas was about to do. He just chose to go through it calmly while treating Judas with love as with all the other disciples. He discerned what was about to happen, but He didn’t close His heart towards Judas and draw a judgment on Him.

Sometimes we tend to judge to protect ourselves  from harm. That causes us to close our hearts toward someone. If we follow the path of Jesus, we can choose to discern a situation but refrain from drawing a judgment on it before its time. It takes faith not to close our heart and choose to stay loving and in relationship with people. We also need to trust the Lord that whatever the outcome, He will use it for good of those who love Him. Our part is to stay in the right relationship with God and with people.

To discern (G1253): a distinguishing, discerning, judging

But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:14

Judgment has to do with making a final call or decree. It is to pass a judgment or declare a verdict on something. Discernment is different. It has to do with distinguishing between right and wrong. As God’s people, we are continually faced with choices. There are all kinds of darkness, deception, false teaching, and  temptations, and we have a responsibility to be trained well enough to distinguish between good and evil.

As parents we teach discernment to our children. We want them to learn not to say, “yes”, to everything, but to recognize good choices versus bad choices, right kind of friends versus the bad company, and so on. The Lord desires for us to be discerning that way as well and not just accept and receive anything as good or holy.

Discernment makes a differentiation, and it encourages us in going on the right path. A discerning person can sound an alarm if they notice something that doesn’t look right, but their goal is not to draw a judgment or a conclusion, but to help move the situation or the person in the right direction. Discernment is redemptive and helps to move someone choose better.

As God’s people let us use the gift of discernment to distinguish between good and the evil. When we see the good, we should encourage it and help it to grow and become strong. When we see evil, we’re called to pray, maybe warn someone, but always with a heart to see the situation changed and redeemed.

If we’re a person in authority, we will be called from time to time to judge a situation. In those times, we truly want to be a righteous judge. Please see the devotionals from June 24, and 28th on “Being a Just Person”. It is important to represent the Lord as the righteous judge and declare a verdict that is fair, righteous, impartial, and that it fits the trespass.

If the perfect one Jesus, chose not to judge the world while He was on the earth, we need to be careful in judging people or situations before its time!!





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  1. In His Grip says:

    In John 7:24 Jesus give a direct command to judge. “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly”. There is a right type of judgment and a wrong wrong type such as, superficial judgment, hypocritical, harsh, unforgiving judgnent (Titus 3:2); self-righteous judgment (James 4:6 and Luke 18:9-14); and untrue judgment (Prov. 19:5 and Titus 3:2. Opposing sin is not wrong. Believers are warned of judging unfairly or unrighteously. Krino- to judge “distinguish” and thus “to decide”; tp “separate” the good from the bad. We should judge behaviour or beliefs that are clearly unbiblical.

    • Karline Fischer says:

      I agree that opposing sin is not wrong, and as believers we are called to do it. The point of this devotional was not to discourage judging unrighteous behavior, but understanding that there is a right way to judge and/or to discern a behavior. What do we do after we judge? Do we write off the person? Are we able to still remain in a position of care and compassion for the day the individual needs help? In addition, a leader in their household and/or in their church has a very different responsibility towards those under his/her care versus those in the world.

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