Bible Teaches Christians To Exercise Discretion

“As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.” (Proverbs 11:22)

The point of this verse really isn’t about lovely women. It’s about discretion and the value the Bible places on it.

What is discretion anyway? In other words, what does it mean to be discreet? Most of the world associates discretion with hiding something. For example, an extramarital affair should be handled with “discretion” rather being avoided altogether. Much like the word, gay, we’ve allowed the true meaning of the word to get lost in a sin-sick world.

Discretion is not really about hiding anything. It’s a character value that should show up in our lives a lot more than it does. Shakespeare once described discretion as the better part of valor. Frankly I see it more closely linked with self-control than I do with valor, the very same self-control that is mentioned as one of the nine elements of the fruit of the sprit at Galatians 5:22-23.

I learned a lesson about the value of discretion when I relocated to North Carolina several years ago. I have a high profile public job and live in a community where the values I hold as a Christian are not often seen as virtuous. Shortly after I arrived, my belief in what the Bible says about homosexuality found itself on the front pages on newspapers across the region. Reporters seized the issue, stretching the truth at my expense. One editorial cartoon even showed me being burned at the stake, labeling me a “heretic”.

I honestly didn’t know what to do. I knew that I was not the man they were saying I was, but my new community was not giving me the time I needed to show them who I really was. I asked God for help, and guess what? The Lord told me to keep my mouth shut.

I had never stopped to think about it, but Jesus never really came to His defense at any time during on one of His six trials. In fact, the Bible records that he had very little to say. For example, when Pontius Pilate asked Him if he was the King of the Jews, he simply said, “It is as you say.” (Luke 23:3)

I guess discretion is the better part of valor. Most of us would have begged for our lives. Jesus, however, said very little, knowing that far more lives would be saved through His death rather than through His life.

The moral of the story is this: Sometimes the best thing to do when problems and misunderstandings come our way is to exercise discretion and say nothing. I followed the Lord’s advice when I was on trial, not because I wanted to, but because that “still small voice” inside me told me it was the right thing to do. It was a reminder that all we really have to count on in this world is our faith, which is why the Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5)

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