Discernment is sorely needed today. It always is. But more of us are keenly aware of the need right now. Playing out on the biggest political stage in the world, the election of the American President, is an exercise in leadership and moral discernment for the American electorate unlike any in living memory. In some ways, it’s unprecedented. There are Christians I deeply respect taking opposing positions. Discernment is leading some to support one major party candidate and some the other, and some a third party candidate, and some a write-in candidate, and some to leave the presidential option ballot blank, voting only on congressional and local candidates. I have my own plan, based on what I discern to be the best path (at least for now). That may change between now and November 8, depending on the possibility of new information or new options.
In personal conversations I make my case, but I also try to listen well. There is nothing simple about this election, and the moral and policy issues at stake are serious and sobering. I throw no stones at my brothers and sisters whose discernment is different than mine. I understand most of the rationales I hear from spiritually mature and discerning friends and family, even if my discernment is leading differently.
As the election nears, I hope most Christians — and not just American Christians, considering the global fallout of U.S. economic and foreign policy decisions — find themselves pleading in their prayers, “Lord, give us (or give them) discernment!”
How Does God Give Us Discernment?
We all want to be discerning people. We want to walk wisely in a world of deception that makes fools of even the most brilliant. But how do we become skilled in discernment? The writer of Hebrews tells us:
But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:14)