Beyond the price tag

In the late 1960’s my Dad supported the family breeding and selling Arabian and Morgan horses. He was an evangelist for children, but that calling did not produce income, so we had a stable. Dad, a born Mid-westerner of practical values, priced the horses fairly but found it hard to sell them until a friend from New York told him, “You need to raise the prices of your horses. People think they’re no good because the price is too low.”  I remember Dad’s laughter as he told me that story. He raised his prices significantly and sold more horses!  

How do you form your ideas about what is of ‘value?’  
It is a worthy question that requires insight, the gift of discernment.

I love the story of Samuel’s search for Israel’s king for the humanity that is wrapped up in it. Seeking a replacement for Saul, the failed king of Israel, Samuel was directed by the Spirit to the home of Jesse outside of Bethlehem.  There he met the ‘obvious choice’ for the throne,  Eliab. He was the oldest son and carried himself like a leader.  It helped that he looked the part, too. “Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t make decisions the way you do! People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at a person’s thoughts and intentions.” (1 Samuel 16:6-7, NLT)

He met each of the man’s sons and sensed no confirmation of the call to leadership in any of them. “Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep.” “Send for him at once,” Samuel said. “We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.” So Jesse sent for him. He was ruddy and handsome, with pleasant eyes. And the Lord said, “This is the one; anoint him.” (1 Samuel 16:11-12, NLT)  David was the youngest, the son with the least esteem in his family yet he became Israel’s greatest king. His father did not even consider his own son ‘king’ material so he left him out tending the sheep even when the great man of God came calling!

Christians are given a gift of God, a work of the Spirit called discernment. Paul prayed for the Believers to “be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11, NIV)  We need not be taken in by oratory or carried away by emotional appeals. We should be able to value others for more than their pretty face or their facility with words or their sense of fashion. But, do we?  Discerning people will be full of the wisdom of the Spirit and able to sort through the many ideas that come their way, choosing those of value and discarding those that merely ‘look good’ to us.

Paul’s prayer invites us to understand the importance of both the heart and the mind. Those who cultivate discernment will become people whose thoughts, words, and actions are aligned God’s will, who avoid the trap of superficiality so very common in American Christianity in 2021. That demands reflection, interaction, and willingness to let the Spirit speak to things we cherish.  The result is that we discern what is best. We are no longer ruled by our emotions.  The Spirit makes our mind alive and able to accept Truth.  In this we become people of depth in Christ Jesus.

Do you desire to know the Truth? Do you pray for discernment in your choice of spiritual teachers, in your convictions about what is valuable?  If we will pray to learn and discern, there is this result.  “Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” (Ephesians 4:14-15, NLT)  There is beauty in maturity – the ability to sustain the right choices, so that we do what we are called to do, regardless of whether we feel like it or not.

“The key to such discernment lies in knowing God and His desires. Our focus ought to move beyond the “big” things we so readily see as matters concerning the will of God—choice of spouse, career, or where to live. Rather, we must catch hold of the fact that God’s concern for our lives centers on who we are in the seemingly inconsequential matters of daily living. …

Jesus’ example (during His temptation in the wilderness) indicates that discernment means seeing through the falsehoods and rationalizations that could beguile us. The world’s system seems to promote good ends, but it does so out of ungodly motivations or through questionable means. Being discerning means hearing warning bells whenever we find ourselves thinking: “Everybody’s doing it”; “Just once won’t hurt”; or “I can do this and still be a good Christian.”
– Stanley Grenz, Discipleship Journal: Issue 72.

The word from the Word today invites us to think, to develop the gift of discernment, and to walk in the beauty of a mature faith.
“Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior.  .. God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.” (2 Timothy 2:15-19, NLT)


Open My Eyes That I May See

Open my eyes that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free

Silently now I wait for Thee
Ready my God Thy will to see
Open my eyes illumine me
Spirit divine

Open my ears that I may hear
Voices of truth Thou sendest clear
And while the wave notes fall on my ear
Everything false will disappear

Open my mouth and let me bear
Gladly the warm truth everywhere
Open my heart and let me prepare
Love with Thy children thus to share

Clara H. Fiske Scott public domain

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