As a Christian I struggle most with being cynical. I am jaded towards the possibilities of good in the world. I fight the negative thoughts in my mind all the time which consumes tremendous amounts of energy. Example:
- I see a person standing on the median of the highway with a sign reading, “Homeless! Will work for food.” And my first thought isn’t, “How can I help this person?” but “Yeah, right!”
- Listening to someone explain why they can’t keep a commitment or a promise there is this little voice in my head going, “Sure, just be honest, you’re blowing me off.”
- Even in church when the reasons something can’t be done or should be done get to flowing around the discussion table there’s that voice, “Face it, you aren’t going to do this because it upsets your comfort zones.”
Is this voice discerning for me the spirits of the people I’m coming in contact with or is it judging others based on appearances?
Discernment comes with wisdom, I believe, and wisdom comes with experience. It is unfortunate that experience has taught me that in each of the examples I’ve given most likely I am right. It is also unfortunate that discernment was taught to me to be one of God’s spiritual gifts that could be applied to any given situation. But first let’s talk about being cynical.
Being cynical means I am without hope that the situation could be different, that the circumstances and conditions surrounding each of the above situations or any others, could be even slightly different making them honest and real. Or even that in part the situations are true.
Being cynical means I can be a wet blanket to new ideas myself! That I am going to be one of the sharp shooters thinking of a thousand reasons why something new won’t work. I can be the reason that thinking outside of the box earns someone a smack on the knuckles with my cynical ruler.
It is a part of me I don’t enjoy so I certainly don’t like it and it is also a part of me that taunts my own creative talents. Face it, does anything valuable come out of being cynical? It can prevent one from making a mistake but it can also be the reason something new isn’t tried, someone’s wings aren’t tested, that the apron string isn’t cut. It can cage the bird who needs to fly, who deserves to fly. It can cage even myself!
True discernment is another matter entirely especially within the realm of a spiritual gift. It is meant to help us detect false teachings and teachers, to prevent the True Gospel from being polluted with garbage, to discern between those who speak who are truly moved by the spirit of God and those by a false spirit. The New International Version translates 1 Corinthians 12:10, “…to another miraculous powers, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues and to still another the interpretation of tongues.”
So discernment and cynicism are not the same. I can’t hide behind that basket covering any longer. It is time to allow God to prune this from my heart. Could it be that being cynical is something God needs to prune from your heart too? Just a thought.