“and this I pray that the love of you yet more and more shall abound in knowledge and all discernment for to approve you the things being excellent that you might be pure and blameless unto a [the] day of Christ being filled with the fruit of righteousness that [is] through Jesus Christ to [the] glory and praise of God.”
Philippians 1:9-11 Greek Linear Translation.
ἐπιγνώσει – knowledge
ascertainment, of a particular point (directed towards a particular object)
αισθήσει – discernment
perception, not only by the senses but by the intellect, cognition, discernment, moral discernment in a ethical matter
Love is the primary driver for knowledge and discernment and Love is:
“… is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. it does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” 1Cor13:4-8
Love and Knowledge and Discernment seem to work in unison. Yet love is greater than knowledge. Meaning, man derived knowledge. Because of the faulty nature of human knowledge, it stands to reason that love would have to drive understanding and depth of insight, otherwise, we as individuals would be swayed by our limited capability and at times make assumptions. This is the premise of this post. The dangers of assumptions.
I doubt anyone wants to be the victim of speculation. But this is especially true when you share your life and your struggles with a trusted friend. You hope that they hear your story and that they strive to understand before surmising any thoughts regarding the situation. The ability to love in discernment and knowledge is very critical in a spiritual relationship if you seek to help and give advice. This is something I think about often especially because I am in a virtual ministry much of the time and I have to be exceptionally careful to not assume anything. I can’t claim that I am perfect nor can I dispense perfect spiritual advice or help. So, my goal is to pray and to attempt to convey what is the most beneficial and biblical help I can give. Sometimes, it is just to pray. I can’t know the depth or the intensity of each situation that every individual shares with me even if they give me great detail. I am required to listen intently but I will never know because I am not inhabiting their life. So, I need compassion and humility. In addition, Love always trusts and always hopes, so it assumes the best. Meanwhile, I, myself, am a sinful person. I struggle with many different temptations and I cannot say that I am above any of the things other people are dealing with. But I know that I would never want to be the victim of assumption. This is why Love rejoices with the truth. In helping people, you have to listen for what’s true and this means hearing all of what they’ve said. Otherwise, you’ll only parcel out parts and the person is heard in fractions. It’s important that:
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak,” James 1:19
If love doesn’t step in to attempt to understand, it will be difficult for the hearer to be spiritually discerning or knowledgeable. I’ve been there. Both as the sharer and the hearer. I have kind of jumped the gun, at times and not fully heard what the person’s voice/heart was saying and I’ve also had people do that to me. I notice, even recently, I’ll get a message from someone and I’ll skip over some important words which changes the message. Then I go back and re-read and I’m struck by how badly I mis-heard. I know I don’t want to do that to anyone because I’ve been on the receiving end of that before when I have shared with someone my struggles and I thought that I expressed myself fully and that they heard all of what I said, but then afterwards realized they didn’t. So, their advice was partially beneficial and yet not completely geared for my situation because of some assumptions. I listened to the advice and put the part that applied into practice. Still, I wish I had been fully heard.
All of this to say, assumptions can create misunderstandings and it’s hard to definitely know how to help spiritually, if love doesn’t listen in order to bring knowledge and discernment. I don’t want to be this way to anyone. And when I think of God and how He listens, I know He actually hears it all.
“But God has surely listened and has heard my prayer” Psalm 66:19
“And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.” 1John 5:15
Though, I don’t think it’s just requests that He hears. I really believe He’s attentive even if we can’t express ourselves so He intervenes.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Romans 8:26
This encourages me to be more like Him and even if there are gaps in my understanding of someone’s situation, I can pray and believe the best and let the rest be sorted out with time and His Spirit.