I truly believe the indwelling Spirit of God reveals to us the spirit of love, of truth, of integrity in another. I believe He also reveals the deceit. Sometimes we do not want to accept the possibility that someone whom we think is upright could be less than we assume. Because we place people on pedestals, we can miss the inner voice of the Holy Spirit warning us to take heed. It's called discernment. It's a gift of the Holy Spirit.
Some Christians are far more discerning than others. It is not because they are smarter, older, or more popular. It is because the Divine has refined their insights. He has given them an edge that others do not possess. It does not mean that others are less worthy, less of a Christian, or less faithful. It simply means the Lord has given His gift as He pleases and to whom He pleases. He entrusts this gift to those whom He knows will take care in its use.
A person gifted with discernment recognizes the guile in another's heart, words and actions. Very often they also have the gift of exhortation. They are able to cut through the maze of explanations, excuses and rhetoric. It's not because they are brilliant, nor because they are more learned; it's because God wants to use them in the body of Christ to guide, to encourage, nurture, disciple and warn.
Discernment distinguishes between sincerity and insincerity. It recognizes evil and godly. It easily sees the flaws in another's walk with God. If misused, discernment develops a critical spirit. If not protected in the grace of God, it condemns, criticizes and judges. Unless discernment is used wisely, with the intent of building up and edifying, it can do more harm than good. Therefore, a person with discernment must walk carefully.
"If we are not heedful and pay no attention to the way the Spirit of God works in us, we will become spiritual hypocrites. We see where other people are failing, and then we take our discernment and turn it into comments of ridicule and criticism, instead of turning it into intercession on their behalf. God reveals this truth about others to us not through the sharpness of our minds but through the direct penetration of His Spirit. If we are not attentive, we will be completely unaware of the source of the discernment God has given us, becoming critical of others and forgetting that God says, "...he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death." 1 John 5:16. Be careful that you don't become a hypocrite by spending all your time trying to get others right with God before you worship Him yourself.
One of the most subtle and illusive burdens God ever places on us as saints is this burden of discernment concerning others. He gives us discernment so that we may accept the responsibility for those souls before Him and form the mind of Christ about them." Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
Knowing this, we are compelled to caution. We must develop a spirit filled with grace, mercy and goodness. We must yield our view of others in light of God's view. We must tread very softly upon another's pathway. We must constantly compare our thoughts to the thoughts of God. We must examine ourselves continually in His presence, in light of His Word. We must extend more grace, more patience, more kindness, more mercy than we'd ever expect to receive in order to use our gift in the midst of His children. We must be willing to forgive others who wrong us and whom we see harming others. We must be quick to pray and slow to admonish, lest we become the greater offender.
Do you know someone with the gift of discernment? Do you heed their words or reject them? Do you use your gift of discernment to build up or tear down? Encourage or discourage?