The Wisdom of Discernment, the Oneness of Unity

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Within each of us lies the wisdom of discernment – we can use this to make choices, decisions, and informed opinions on matters of importance to us and those around us. In contrast, we can use the all-encompassing unity that comes from opening our hearts and minds to others as a means of unifying in love and harmony among ourselves and those around us.

How does discernment contribute to unity from a Christian perspective?

The two points above were written from a Christian perspective. As followers of Christ, our primary concern is to be obedient to His command: that you love one another as I have loved you (John 15:12). This should be our primary motivation to seek discernment in all things. For as Jesus said: he who has my commandments and keeps them is he who loves me, and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him (John 14:21). Since we cannot please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6), we cannot please God without discernment – not in ourselves or anyone else.

Why do we seek confirmation within discernment?

We often look for external validation before making important decisions. This is especially true with people we trust and love; even a minor decision – say, what to have for dinner tonight – can be fraught with anxiety if we don’t know how our loved ones will react. We also find ourselves on shaky ground when trying to make big decisions in our professional lives. What if we choose one path instead of another? Will our colleagues think less of us? Some might even leave us behind! Before deciding anything at work or at home, it’s helpful to recognize that a decision, either way, isn’t going to make you right or wrong – it’s simply another step along your journey as a human being. No matter what direction you choose, you have chosen wisely.

What can discernment teach us about unity?

More than anything, discernment teaches us what we don’t know about our limits. And that’s a good thing. The ability to judge right from wrong is one of our greatest gifts because it helps us make better choices and stay out of trouble. If we know when to stop or how much is too much, discernment can keep us on track and prevent us from losing control or giving up in despair. That said discernment is an abstract idea; deciding which course to take isn’t always clear-cut or easy to determine (hence our all-too-human tendency for conflict). But if you know that failure results when you choose wrongly – whether that failure involves a bad relationship or missed opportunity – then learning how to judge wisely becomes essential. At its core, unity means one—but as any math teacher will tell you, 1 + 1 doesn’t always equal 2: It equals oneness. You can be united with something without being merged into it. In fact, unity requires balance: Two different elements needed by each other to create harmony and balance; otherwise, they become disparate and conflicting forces (like positive and negative charges) rather than complementary ones.

How can we embody both unity and discernment?

Too often in life, we can be deceived. We believe something to be true when, in reality, it’s not. What begins as a simple misperception can lead to disastrous consequences. To avoid being victimized by falsehoods, we must have a strong sense of discernment and unity; both must exist within us if we are to navigate life successfully. With discernment and unity comes wisdom. When we know what is real and what is false, we know how to respond appropriately. When we respond to others, our actions will reflect integrity and authenticity. Our words will be kinder and more considerate because our heart is open and receptive to others’ needs. When our hearts are closed off from others, there is no room for empathy or compassion—we may say things that seem nice, but they lack sincerity because they come from a place of fear or self-interest rather than love or respect for another person. When our hearts are open through discernment and unity, then kindness follows naturally; it is who we are instead of something we do or say only when convenient.

What happens when we practice both discernment and unity together?

We can choose to view our relationships with others and ourselves through a lens of discernment OR through a lens of unity. What happens when we practice both at once? It gives us information that we couldn’t get from one or the other by itself. And even more exciting is what we discover as we do so: that discernment and unity are not only complementary – they are inextricably linked in co-creating and co-exist within each person. Through looking deeply at both discernment and unity, we can come to know ourselves better than ever before. We uncover our deepest gifts and what it means to be human. Join me for an exploration into how discernment and unity work together to give us a whole new way of being!

MM

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