Discernment: Making Wise Choices Under Pressure

October 5, 2003

DISCERNMENT: MAKING WISE CHOICES UNDER PRESSURE by Ray Pritchard “So that you may be able to discern what is best” (Philippians 1:10a). This is a prayer for spiritual discrimination. In our day discrimination has a mostly negative tone, but in the spiritual realm we desperately need to discriminate between good and bad, good and better, better and best. This kind of discrimination is the ability to make wise choices under pressure. God’s people need to learn discernment so that under pressure they can make wise choices. I think all parents with young children understand this principle. As our children are growing up, we will correct them by saying, “That wasn’t a good choice you made.” Every day teachers say similar words to the students: “You made a good choice” or “You made a bad choice.” One Friday night we sat in the stands watching a high school football game. At one point one of the players committed a foul (a late hit, I think) and the referee threw his flag. Marlene turned to me and said in her schoolteacher voice, “He didn’t make a good choice.” “No, he didn’t,” I replied. “He hit the ball carrier after the whistle blew.” This is an important prayer request for parents to offer on behalf of their children. Pray that your children learn to make wise choices under pressure. This is crucial because most of us can make wise choices if we have two days to think about it. But life usually doesn’t work that way, especially for the young. They have to make split-second decisions every day about what they will wear, where they will go, who they will go with, what jokes they will tell, what music they will listen to, what movies they will watch, and whether or not they will stand up for their faith. Young people today are on the firing line all the time. Pray for your children that they will have wisdom from God to choose what is best when they don’t have a lot of time to make up their minds. There are really two parts to making wise choices: First, you must know what is right. This is crucial because we live in a world where everything appears as shades of gray. Second, you must have the courage to choose what you know to be right. I happened to catch a few minutes of a televised speech by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. During the question time someone asked how he managed to deal with all the criticism that comes to anyone in a high-profile position. He replied that the most important thing in life is to discover what you believe to be true, and then to stand up for those beliefs no matter what. He then added these words: “If you do what you know is right, it doesn’t matter what people think.” That’s good advice for those who want to make wise choices under pressure.

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