DISCERNMENTIt became an interesting discussion amongst a group of Christian men. One of them had mentioned his intention to share the gospel with an unbelieving acquaintance that was ill and hospitalized. However, when he arrived, the person’s family and some friends were visiting. Not wanting to sort of push his way into a gospel presentation at that time, he kept his visitation confined to sharing concern, well wishes, and a promise to keep them in prayer. The man expressed his disappointment concerning the circumstances he walked into and a missed opportunity for his intended evangelism.

For the most part, his Christian brothers did not give him much empathy. Yes, they all admitted to having experiences with “failure” at sharing the gospel, but with the exception of one of the men, the popular opinion was he should have spoken up and out to everyone in that hospital room. “We have to be bold and unafraid! Everyone in the room may have come to salvation! You could have had a great impact!” Sheepish and ashamed he promised not to miss the next opportunity. But the one brother quietly reminded that there is something called discernment, and he felt the right action had wisely been taken. Yes, all those great things might have transpired, or instead, great offense taken at his “pushiness” and “piety” and “inopportunity” that might have turned hard hearts even harder. It is possible to do more harm than good, however well-intentioned we may be when spiritual discernment is not exercised. One of the voices in the group responded with “God’s word does not come back void.” This brought a chorus of agreement and the end of the subject.

Upon arriving home the lone voice remained troubled. The “God’s word does not come back void” quotation was bothering him. So he went to the source – Isaiah 55:10,11 – and read: “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” See the rub? It is HIS word, going forth from HIS mouth, to accomplish what HE sends it for that will not return void. Our just flinging God’s word around has no guarantee it will not come back null and void. Discernment is absolutely vital on our part if we are to be effective and faithful conduits for that which the Lord imparts to us in order to send through us.

Jesus warned His followers: “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6) We must handle the word of God carefully not carelessly. Being open and sensitive to the Holy Spirit is vital for knowing when, where, how and to whom God is sending His word to accomplish His purposes.

When God sends His word it shall prosper in the thing for which He sent it and most certainly will not come back void. Are you open to receiving and discerning as to when, where, how and to whom it is being sent? If not, it shall not prosper, and will instead, return void.

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