The dictionary uses the following definition for the word discretion—“1. the power or right to decide or act according to one's own judgment; freedom of judgment or choice . . . 2. The quality of being discreet, especially with reference to one's own actions or speech; prudence or decorum.” Discretion seems to be an increasingly neglected concept in our society. More and more people freely express their opinion or take action either with little prior thought to the consequences or with the deliberate decision to cause harm. For example, on Columbus Day, a national holiday, police in New York City have to protect statutes erected for Christopher Columbus for fear that people will vandalize or destroy them. Instead of taking into account the pride that Italian Americans have in a famous explorer, protestors feel justified in defacing or tearing down his monuments because of the perceived harm he caused to native Americans.
Prudence, or decorum, would suggest there are more healthy ways to express disagreement than resorting to destruction of monuments. Wise forethought would eliminate posting comments on social media that are derogatory or mean-spirited towards others. Judicious consideration would recognize more constructive ways to communicate dissatisfaction than taking a knee in a stadium during the national anthem and, thereby, putting one’s job on the line—as well as alienating patriotic fans. Unfortunately, as a society becomes increasingly mean-spirited and polarized, discretion is equally devalued. We no longer tolerate a neighbor with differing opinions because it is far easier to bash them.
Esther 2:10—Esther did not reveal her ethnic background or her birthplace, because Mordecai had ordered her not to.
Mordecai was the legal guardian to Esther because her parents perished. Knowing that her Jewish blood could cause her great harm in the foreign city of Susa he advised Esther to keep silent about her heritage. She let her life shine and won the approval of all she encountered. King Ahasuerus was so impressed by her that he made her his queen. In Esther’s role as a leader, she could have trumpeted her countrymen’s’ status as an oppressed minority. She could have insisted that they had rights and criticized the existing policies. Instead she obeyed Mordecai. Only later, when a plot was hatched to destroy her people, did she bravely go before the king, reveal that she was a Jew, and speak on her people’s behalf.
Discretion means that we understand timing and execution. There are times when it is wisest to be silent and to refrain from acting. Conversely, situations may occur where it is appropriate and necessary to speak out or act. Discretion leads us to trust God and to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit instead of trying to be junior holy spirits. Discretion correctly applied is love and not agenda-based. We always treat people the way we would want to be treated. Kindness outdoes correctness and listening generally has twice the value of speaking.
When we choose to abandon discretion we also elect to forfeit credibility. Nothing good comes from indiscrete thoughtlessness—is that surprising?! Often our emotion is the culprit for our lack of self-control. We let anger, annoyance, passion, hurt, outrage, discomfort or pain rationalize hasty words or behavior. What we ought to do is to let a night pass to carefully consider our next step; count to ten before we spew; and, ask what Jesus would do.
Discretion is the perfection of reason, and a guide to us in all the duties of life.—Walter Scott
©2017 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)