Spiritual Discernment

Spiritual discernment, one of the essentials in the equipment of a Christian Scientist, is unattainable save as we reflect the Christ-wisdom which reveals the inwardness of motives, aims, desires,—in short, of the entire human character. It was this quality which enabled Jesus, at the age of twelve, to analyze the mental conditions of his time as embodied in the rabbis, whom he easily confounded on their own basis of thought, and the lack of this quality in his disciples and others was often rebuked by our Master in vigorous and uncompromising language. He indicated it to be a requisite of spiritual growth, and that those who did not possess it were sorely limited in their ability to "work as he worked" for themselves or others.

The dawning of spiritual discernment is indicated by a threefold condition of thought; viz., the absence of prejudice, the absence of suspicion, and the presence of love. Black-spectacled prejudice renders it quite impossible correctly to discern anything. Whether it be favorable or unfavorable is immaterial; so long as it remains it is sure to give rise to erroneous conclusions. One would not go into a dungeon to dissect the sunlight, nor stand on a mountain with an umbrella before his face to view the landscape. Prejudice is the outcome of ignorance, malice, or hate, and its indulgence is to be guarded against as an insidious foe of the spiritual life.

Suspicion is likewise a hindrance to true discernment, beclouding and stultifying all our mental activities. To peer into the acts of those about us for some hidden, perchance impious motive, is not conducive to clear perception. Indeed, doubt and distrust exclude from human consciousness that divine insight which never believes but knows. When Jesus met the woman at the well he did not suspect her; she was aware that he knew whereof he spake. His gentle yet unsparing rebuke awoke in her a craving for Truth which suspicion and false accusation would never have stimulated. This is one of the unfailing results of spiritual discernment,—while detecting evil in its every refinement, it condemns not the evil-doer. It would have been false charity for Jesus to have closed his eyes to the sins of the woman before him; yet when the error was uncovered, he had only love for the misguided person who had been its instrument.

The Thrall of Deception
August 25, 1906

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