“Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:”
“Discretion” is used only nine times in the Scriptures, but the power of its presence should arrest the attention of the believer. The word “discretion” means, the power to make distinctions. In other words, the person who has discretion is the person who is able to make wise distinctions in different areas. Making a distinction is very important because if you don’t have the wisdom to make this type of judgment, you could find yourself making wrong decisions or choosing wrong friends to your own hurt.
If you are going to be a person of discretion, you must have the courage to make distinctions. Many believers don’t want to make a distinction because they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, but your testimony is dependent upon making distinctions. There are five areas in the Scriptures where God shows the power of discernment.
First, discernment makes a distinction with money. Psalm 112:5 says, “A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion.” You will never be financially stable until you learn to have discretion with your money. Many people “invest” in get-rich-quick schemes because they lack the ability to make a distinction between a good and bad investment. You will forever be a servant to the banks if you don’t have discernment with your money.
Second, discernment makes a distinction of wrong actions. Verse 12 talks about the “way of the evil man.” A person of discretion is able to see which actions can be taken wrong by a person who wants to hurt others. It is imperative for the Christian to have the discretion to see how their actions can be taken by the enemy. You may not mean anything by your actions, but others may see them and use them to attack you. A person of discretion will have the ability to make a distinction of when it is right to do certain things, and when it will be perceived as wrong.
Third, discernment makes a distinction of wrong talk. Verse 12 continues to show the importance of avoiding “the man that speaketh froward things.” What you say is important to how people perceive you. As a believer, you need the discretion to learn what to say and when to say it so that people know that you are a Christian. Discretion is saying the right thing at the right time and saying it in the right way. If you don’t want your words to be taken wrong, you need to have the discretion to make a distinction of when to say things, and when it is wise not to say things.
Fourth, discernment makes a distinction between good and bad people. Verse 16 shows that discretion will deliver you from the “strange woman.” Many believers have fallen to the wrong friends because they lacked the power to make a distinction between good and bad people. You may not like making that judgment, but discretion forces you to make a judgment on someone’s character to determine if they are a person with whom you should associate.
Fifth, discernment makes a distinction of when to get angry. Proverbs 19:11 shows that discretion defers a man’s anger. There are times when you need to get angry, but there are also times when you need to defer your anger. Your ability to build lives will be determined by your discernment to know if you should defer your anger.