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Wisdom and Discernment

January 15, 2013

Are wisdom and discernment the same thing?


Wisdom, or Sophia, in the Old Testament, is knowledge: knowledge of God’s character and actions in the world, knowledge of God’s desires for the world, and knowledge of human nature, as imago dei.

Modern use of the word wisdom feels a bit different to me. Wisdom is associated with age and experience in our western world. Wisdom is considered something to be attained or worked toward, rather than a gift that is given in our culture.

Discernment, on the other hand, is both a gift and practice. To be discerning is to search for God in every moment or decision. Discernment in a practice in knowing ourselves and in recognizing God. It requires Sophia, not necessarily age; continuously seeking God asks us to hold ourselves lightly and to be indifferent towards our own advancement. Some discerning knowledge can be given in a flash of intuition; some discerning decisions can take years to reach certainty with.

Discernment is an art, requiring basic skills and plenty of courage.

Discernment is a process, calling for methodical abandon of self.

Discernment is a prayer, needing hope and faith.

So what do you say? Are they the same or different?

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