Discern the Hidden Things

Nehemiah was a man who learned to discern. Discernment is to see behind the façade; to detect that which is disguised.  Nehemiah had key perceptions and responses that revealed his discerning heart, discerning evil influence from good influence. A neighboring governor, Sanballat, used nice sounding words requesting a meeting on the plain of Ono. This was a place out in the open away from Jerusalem. Nehemiah discerned his nice sounding words as a scheme for harm saying ‘But they were scheming against me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply……’I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down’. (Neh. 6:1-4) Nice sounding words do not equate to Spirit-sourced motives. He discerned the motives and responded in wisdom.  

Nehemiah also discerned the motives of Shemaiah, one of the prophetic leaders, as those of a false prophet. Shemaiah told Nehemiah to hide inside the temple to protect himself from the enemy. But Nehemiah said ‘he had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me.’(Neh. 6:13) The sin Nehemiah speaks of was two-fold: retreating into the inner sanctum of the temple where only priests were allowed though he was not a priest; and hiding as a coward when he was supposed to be a leader.  Nehemiah discerned that Shemaiah’s motives had nothing to do with Nehemiah’s safety. They had everything to do with Shemaiah’s relationship with the enemy. Shemaiah was hiding something!!  

There is a special spiritual gift of discernment (1 Cor. 12:10), but there is also a general discernment within anyone who is filled with the Holy Spirit. You can yield to the Holy Spirit’s voice and His impressions to detect that which is disguised. I have found in secular and church leadership that discernment can prevent bad decisions.  I learned to consider not only the visible evidence of what is going on but to detect evil disguised as good.  For example, an employee with addictions will begin to twist truth and protect anything that serves the addiction. At first this may not be mission-critical, but over time becomes more and more problematic leading to mission failure. Discernment doesn’t wait for visible failure. By that time it is often too late. Before the addiction is overtly evident, a leader must discern nice words, deflection of accountability and avoidance of disclosure.   A leader’s discernment then partners with wisdom making a good decision, fulfilling God’s plan and thwarting the devil’s schemes.


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