Summary: When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick." (Matt. 9:10-12)
How Jesus Exercised Discerning Judgments
People often misunderstand one statement that Jesus made, "Judge not less you be judged yourself." (Matthew 7:1) Actually, Jesus taught that no one should try to play God by assuming a position as the final judge of what is right. The Lord showed amazing wisdom in numerous occasions by appraising what was best in people.
Illustration:Discernment in Scripture is the skill that enables us to differentiate. It is the ability to see issues clearly. We desperately need to cultivate this spiritual skill that will enable us to know right from wrong. We must be prepared to distinguish light from darkness, truth from error, best from better, righteousness from unrighteousness, purity from defilement, and principles from pragmatics.
J. Stowell, Fan The Flame, Moody, 1986, p. 44.
The good Shepherd taught His disciples how to be discerning in determining what kind of people they should eventually choose to lead the church. Without an ability to make wise decisions, Jesus knew that the disciples would be left to their own cultural values to decide what was best. Christ’s evaluative criteria superceded all human abilities because He knew what was in the heart of every person. May the Lord give us such a discerning mind to make our decisions based on the mind of Christ.
1. Jesus wanted everyone to evaluate the types of people we should pattern our life after. Jesus said, "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them." (Matt. 7:15,16)
If you really want to know what a person is like examine the outcomes of their lifestyle and work. If an individual’s results are filled with frustration, bitterness and emptiness, there is something wrong with that person’s thinking, believing and spiritual obedience. Those who follow Jesus will bear qualitative and quantitative spiritual fruit. (2 Pet. 1:3-8)
Illustration:At the close of life, the question will not be,
"How much have you gotten?" but "How much have you given?"
Not "How much have you won?" but "How much have you done?"
Not "How much have you saved?" but "How much have you sacrificed?"
It will be "How much have you loved and served," not "How much were you honored?"
Nathan C. Schaeffer.
2. Jesus refused to accept people on the basis of their words. The Lord said, "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father in heaven…. Many will say to me on the judgment day, ‘Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me you evil doers!’" (Matt. 7:21-23)
Jesus gives us the discernment to appraise the quality of a person’s commitment by their actions. Allow a person a period of time to properly evaluate their faithfulness, reliability and spiritual maturity.
3. Jesus taught His disciples to constantly evaluate the quality of their ministries. The Great Teacher said, "Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock…. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. (Matt. 7:24-27)
Christ gave us assurances that obedience to His teaching would result in unshakable foundations. However, Jesus also warned everyone that failed to consistently obey His truth would eventually be exposed for ones character flaws.
4. Jesus was not shy about disqualifying some people from becoming a part of His inner circle of disciples. One day a teacher of the law came to Jesus and said, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." (Matt. 7:18-20)
Christ did not hesitate to weed out people who He knew were not finishers. All people are valuable, but not all are strategically working to multiply His kingdom and righteousness.
5. Jesus consistently raised the bar of spiritual maturity for His own disciples. Christ wanted His disciples to grow in all aspects of life and ministry. One of the disciples said to Jesus, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus told him, "Follow Me and let the dead bury the dead." (Matt. 7:21,22)
Our Lord was quick to teach the disciples that to build spiritual leaders we must let the spiritually carnal or spiritually dead to their own devices. Jesus Christ spent more than 65% of His time with the twelve disciples because He knew that was the best investment of His resources for eternity.