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Discerning Love by Rick Joyner
Rick Joyner
Oct 6, 2004

As we have discussed, the harvest at the end of the age is the reaping of everything that has been sown in man. Both the good and the evil are now coming to full maturity. However, without spiritual discernment, evil will sometimes appear good, and good will sometimes appear to be evil. How can we distinguish them?

I followed with interest the debate among Christians about whether the movie series from The Lord of the Rings was either good or evil. Some thought that it was a powerful prophetic word from the Lord and some thought that it was from the devil. I personally thought the truth was somewhere in-between, but it was the reasoning that I was interested in and felt that it was very illuminating.

There were many profound insights into the nature of good and evil in Tolkien's books that were powerfully articulated and the movies did a good job of projecting them. I think these insights were also very relevant to the times to which we are coming. Even so, this was not Scripture and I do not think that such things should be taken too seriously. I do not doubt Tolkien's personal faith and I think he made a great contribution to our times through his work—especially through his influence with C.S. Lewis. But both of these men had some views and ways of trying to convey what they believed that should be questioned. However, like all such works, the wise will just eat the meat and throw away the bones. The immature and unstable will throw away the meat because it has bones in it.

One of the great lines about discernment in the first Lord of the Rings book, The Fellowship Of the Ring, was when Frodo had to choose between going with a man who was in fact leading him into a trap or Strider. Of the one with the evil intent Frodo said, "He seems fair but feels foul." Of Strider, who was trying to save him, but came across as far more hard and insensitive, he said, "He seems foul but feels fair." Frodo wisely followed Strider and was saved from his enemy. Likewise, when we judge too superficially we will likely be fooled.

Though I have not seen any studies to verify this, I personally believe there are more Christians who are now estranged from the church than who are growing in real body relationships which are essential for true Christian maturity. Most of the Christians I have met that are no longer in a church were either wounded or disappointed by the church, and therefore gave up on it. From these I have often heard, "I love God but just don't like His people." This may sound glib, but as John explained, this is a basic deception as we do not really love God unless we also love His people. The Scriptures also go to great lengths to explain that love is not to be based on whether people are lovable or not. Also, love itself is not what many believe it to be.

As we studied last week, all true discernment must be founded on love. However, what often seems like compassion can be the root of a diabolical deception. We must always keep in mind that the fruit from the good side of the Tree of Knowledge is just as deadly as the evil side. Humanistic goodness is a very basic affront to God and is rooted more in the pride of man than genuine compassion. Humanistic goodness will also result in further bondage, not freedom.

It was once said of the great Russian novelist that "The world has never been viewed through a more discerning eye than that of Leo Tolstoy." Except for the Lord Jesus, and the writers of Scripture, I would tend to agree with that statement. He had a remarkable understanding of the motives behind the actions of people. In his classic novel, War and Peace, Tolstoy used a poignant illustration to highlight what has now become a distinction between modern conservative and liberal politics. I am not writing this to try to sway anyone's vote or politics, but simply to use this obvious example in the world to understand true compassion and discernment.

In this story Count Pierre has great feelings of compassion for the serfs on his estate. However, his policies and practices were motivated more out of his feeling of compassion than wisdom, which flawed his methods, and so the condition of his serfs deteriorated. In contrast to this, Prince Andrey, simply out of his devotion to sound business principles, greatly elevated the condition of his serfs. To the serfs, Pierre seemed to be more fair, but they were not nearly as well off as those who worked for Andrey. Which one had more love for their serfs?

One cannot help but to draw the parallel between these two characters in Tolstoy's novel and the liberal and conservative political parties. In America the Democratic Party may say all of the right things in relation to its concern for minorities, but it does not take much discernment to see the tokenism and its policies often leave the people they claim to be helping in much worse shape. In contrast to this, the Republicans do not talk nearly as much about this issue and seem to even be hard and insensitive to them, but are actually doing far more for minorities. Republican administrations have been much more prone not to judge anyone by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character and abilities and have elevated more minorities to real positions of power and wealth. It is likely that the first black, Hispanic, and women Presidents will be Republicans.

This is not to say that some Democratic Party policies and programs in America have not helped minorities. I am personally very thankful for the devotion to civil rights that the Kennedy and Johnson administrations had. It is my personal opinion that Affirmative Action, even as badly as it is administered and applied, is better than doing nothing and should be kept until someone develops something better. However, in general, the policies and programs intended to help minorities in the United States have been archaic for decades and because they are generally so poorly managed they are now often counter-productive, hurting the very ones they were intended to help.

It was because of this tendency for the people and the governments who talk the most and do the least that Winston Churchill once said, "If you are not a liberal when you are twenty you have no heart. But if you are not a conservative by the time you are forty you have no mind." Bleeding hearts seem so much more righteous, but tend to squander more resources and actually end up hurting more people than they help. In contrast, the practical and pragmatic who tend to be doers instead of talkers usually do far more good for people. However, our goal is not to quit caring, but to let our love be guided by sound, godly wisdom.

As we addressed last week, true discernment is founded on love, but humanistic love is not love at all. Such is usually a selfish attempt to either manipulate others or appease our own conscience by works in place of the righteousness of God which has been provided for us by the cross. Likewise, having feelings of compassion can make us feel more righteous, but as James wrote, "faith without works is dead," (James 2:26), and so is love without works. Those who seem to talk the most about love will usually be found to be doing the least. Those who are really doing something to help others rarely talk about it and therefore may not seem to be motivated by love at all. But as the Lord told us, to judge by fruit and not words is true love.