This is our sixth lesson in our new series entitled “21 Qualities for Christians in the Bible.” We must remember our goal is to aid in our growth as Christians and help to develop servant leadership traits inspired by men and women of Scripture. The apostle Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:18, “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Peter also tells us to “add” to our faith in 2 Peter 1:5-11, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
The apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.” These are just a few of the Scriptures that teach Christians to grow and mature as Children of God. These things aren’t done to make the Christian better “than” those around them but better “for” those around them. As Christians are to be as Jesus says in Matthew 5:13-16, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14 "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 "Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
You see, the Bible is not only the greatest book every written, it is the greatest leadership book ever written. Everything we could ever want to learn about leadership – vision, purpose, thinking strategy, communication, attitude, encouragement, mentoring, follow-through – it’s all there. We must be open to what God wants to teach us. We learn from the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 55:11 concerning God, “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.” Three things we must recognize in this text, (1) God’s Word always fulfills His purpose. (2) His Word does not return to Him void; (3) It accomplishes what He pleases and prospers in what He sent it for.
So, for Our lesson today we examine: Discernment: Put an End to Unsolved Mysteries.
Simply stated, discernment is the ability to find the root of the matter, to read between the lines and see beneath the surface of a situation. It’s more than a logical understanding of the facts; it also relies on experience and the wisdom and intuition that comes from it. Discernment is critical for effective servant leadership. So how does a servant leader develop discernment? First, place high value on non-traditional thinking and embrace change, ambiguity, and uncertainty. Also, learn from wise and discerning servant leaders that you admire. Also get in the habit of evaluating your own experiences. Maximize the learning that can come from living life. Examine past decision. Where did logic serve you? What instincts did you follow that helped? As you evaluate many decisions, look for patterns. Most people have one area where they have the best instincts. By capitalizing on those excellent instincts, they can continue to use and refine them.
Today we are going to learn discernment from the Pharaoh who recognized Joseph’s wisdom in Genesis 41:25-57, “Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, "The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do: 26 "The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads are seven years; the dreams are one. 27 "And the seven thin and ugly cows which came up after them are seven years, and the seven empty heads blighted by the east wind are seven years of famine. 28 "This is the thing which I have spoken to Pharaoh. God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do. 29 "Indeed seven years of great plenty will come throughout all the land of Egypt; 30 "but after them seven years of famine will arise, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine will deplete the land. 31 "So the plenty will not be known in the land because of the famine following, for it will be very severe. 32 "And the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. 33 "Now therefore, let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. 34 "Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven plentiful years. 35 "And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. 36 "Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine." 37 So the advice was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of all his servants. 38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, "Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?" 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. 40 "You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you." 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, "See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt." 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph's hand; and he clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 And he had him ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried out before him, "Bow the knee!" So he set him over all the land of Egypt. 44 Pharaoh also said to Joseph, "I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no man may lift his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt." 45 And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnath-Paaneah. And he gave him as a wife Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On. So Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt. 46 Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt. 47 Now in the seven plentiful years the ground brought forth abundantly. 48 So he gathered up all the food of the seven years which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities; he laid up in every city the food of the fields which surrounded them. 49 Joseph gathered very much grain, as the sand of the sea, until he stopped counting, for it was immeasurable. 50 And to Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, whom Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On, bore to him. 51 Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: "For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father's house." 52 And the name of the second he called Ephraim: "For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction." 53 Then the seven years of plenty which were in the land of Egypt ended, 54 and the seven years of famine began to come, as Joseph had said. The famine was in all lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. 55 So when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Then Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, "Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, do." 56 The famine was over all the face of the earth, and Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians. And the famine became severe in the land of Egypt. 57 So all countries came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine was severe in all lands.” While that was a lot of Scripture we need to also turn to Genesis 47:13-26 to be sure we get everything for our study, “Now there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine. 14 And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, for the grain which they bought; and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh's house. 15 So when the money failed in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, "Give us bread, for why should we die in your presence? For the money has failed." 16 Then Joseph said, "Give your livestock, and I will give you bread for your livestock, if the money is gone." 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the cattle of the herds, and for the donkeys. Thus he fed them with bread in exchange for all their livestock that year. 18 When that year had ended, they came to him the next year and said to him, "We will not hide from my lord that our money is gone; my lord also has our herds of livestock. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our lands. 19 "Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants of Pharaoh; give us seed, that we may live and not die, that the land may not be desolate." 20 Then Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for every man of the Egyptians sold his field, because the famine was severe upon them. So the land became Pharaoh's. 21 And as for the people, he moved them into the cities, from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other end. 22 Only the land of the priests he did not buy; for the priests had rations allotted to them by Pharaoh, and they ate their rations which Pharaoh gave them; therefore they did not sell their lands. 23 Then Joseph said to the people, "Indeed I have bought you and your land this day for Pharaoh. Look, here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land. 24 "And it shall come to pass in the harvest that you shall give one-fifth to Pharaoh. Four-fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and for your food, for those of your households and as food for your little ones." 25 So they said, "You have saved our lives; let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh's servants." 26 And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt to this day, that Pharaoh should have one-fifth, except for the land of the priests only, which did not become Pharaoh's.” Pharaoh recognized Josephs discerning ability and Pharaoh discerned to put Joseph in charge! Notice Pharaoh’s words in Genesis 41:39, “Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you.” Pharaoh discerned that God had made all of his dreams known to Joseph. We know Pharaoh was able to discern Joseph’s discerning ability because of what Joseph had explained to him in Genesis 41:25, “Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, "The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do:” Because of Joseph’s discernment the people’s lives were saved! Notice what we read in Genesis 47:25, “So they said, "You have saved our lives; let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh's servants.” So, with this example of discernment we get to see its value and importance. Lives were saved! You see, this is exactly why Christians need the ability to discern, Souls are at stake!
Now let’s turn our attention to yet more teaching on discernment. Now we turn to Proverbs 2:1-22 where Solomon teaches: Seek Wisdom and You Will Find It. “My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, 2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; 3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, 4 If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; 7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; 8 He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints. 9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path. 10 When wisdom enters your heart, And knowledge is pleasant to your soul, 11 Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you, 12 To deliver you from the way of evil, From the man who speaks perverse things, 13 From those who leave the paths of uprightness To walk in the ways of darkness; 14 Who rejoice in doing evil, And delight in the perversity of the wicked; 15 Whose ways are crooked, And who are devious in their paths; 16 To deliver you from the immoral woman, From the seductress who flatters with her words, 17 Who forsakes the companion of her youth, And forgets the covenant of her God. 18 For her house leads down to death, And her paths to the dead; 19 None who go to her return, Nor do they regain the paths of life- 20 So you may walk in the way of goodness, And keep to the paths of righteousness. 21 For the upright will dwell in the land, And the blameless will remain in it; 22 But the wicked will be cut off from the earth, And the unfaithful will be uprooted from it.” Solomon is seeking to help his son live life skillfully and discernment is one avenue. Remember Proverbs 2:3-10, “Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, 4 If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; 7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; 8 He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints. 9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path. 10 When wisdom enters your heart, And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,” Through this instruction Solomon seeks to help his son understand what it truly means to fear the Lord and we all must discern to fear God with all reverence. It should be comforting to us to know as Solomon explains to his son that the Lord gives wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. We simply must “cry out for discernment” as Solomon said. The Lord will help us to discern the good that brings peace to the soul if we will only follow His instruction! This exactly what we all need to do as we go through this sinful world! We need the peace that passes all understanding which we can only attain from a continuing study of God’s Word!
Learning from Pharaoh and his discernment of Joseph’s ability to discern and Solomon’s instruction to seek wisdom and his affirmation that if we do so we will find it could be enough to teach us about discernment. But the Good Lord has provided numerous other examples. There is one we want you to look into that is the discernment found between a man named Hiram and Solomon when they strike a deal in 1 Kings 5:1-12, “Now Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants to Solomon, because he heard that they had anointed him king in place of his father, for Hiram had always loved David. 2 Then Solomon sent to Hiram, saying: 3 You know how my father David could not build a house for the name of the LORD his God because of the wars which were fought against him on every side, until the LORD put his foes under the soles of his feet. 4 But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor evil occurrence. 5 And behold, I propose to build a house for the name of the LORD my God, as the LORD spoke to my father David, saying, "Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, he shall build the house for My name." 6 Now therefore, command that they cut down cedars for me from Lebanon; and my servants will be with your servants, and I will pay you wages for your servants according to whatever you say. For you know there is none among us who has skill to cut timber like the Sidonians. 7 So it was, when Hiram heard the words of Solomon, that he rejoiced greatly and said, Blessed be the LORD this day, for He has given David a wise son over this great people! 8 Then Hiram sent to Solomon, saying: I have considered the message which you sent me, and I will do all you desire concerning the cedar and cypress logs. 9 My servants shall bring them down from Lebanon to the sea; I will float them in rafts by sea to the place you indicate to me, and will have them broken apart there; then you can take them away. And you shall fulfill my desire by giving food for my household. 10 Then Hiram gave Solomon cedar and cypress logs according to all his desire. 11 And Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand kors of wheat as food for his household, and twenty kors of pressed oil. Thus Solomon gave to Hiram year by year. 12 So the LORD gave Solomon wisdom, as He had promised him; and there was peace between Hiram and Solomon, and the two of them made a treaty together." It is in this story that Solomon recognized the need to build the House of the Lord for his father David and he discerned Hiram's people were the right ones to help. With Solomon’s discerning ability he also knew how to properly communicate with Hiram in order to get the job done. You see, Solomon complemented Hiram and his people and promised to pay them as Hiram chose. Ultimately, Solomon's discernment brought great joy to Hiram and his people and the job got done! The Lord was glorified because of discernment! As you will see as you read this story Hiram too, is quite the discerner himself!
With these examples of discernment and so many others, let us examine our hearts and see if we “measure up” to the level of discernment truly desired in us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! The level of discernment He Himself had when He was willing to go to the cross on our behalf. He discerned with full knowledge what He would go through on our behalf. All Christians need to be a discerning people! The Lord has provided for us time and time again this quality modeled in the Bible for our growth.