‘The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.’ Proverbs 14.6
Both mocking and discerning are to do with the way we react to other people, but we aspire to one, and not the other!
Mocking is when we look for what is bad in a person and judge them, whereas discerning is different. It is about being open to what else might be going on beyond the obvious: being open to see the good in someone, seeking to understand why someone is as they are or even considering whether it is us reacting strangely rather than them. There is an openness in discernment that is lacking in mockery.
Most of us interact with other people each day. Sometimes, for whatever reason, certain folk annoy us and cause us to react in a bad or negative way towards them. One of the easiest things in the world is to dismiss or judge them, and sometimes speak negatively about them to others.
A better reaction is to acknowledge the effect they have on us, but to think about what else could be going on? Is this person hurting in someone way? Is it me who is having a bad day and not them?
A good listener is not just someone who can be quiet whilst others are talking. Listening also involves being aware of all the different things going on in any given situation. When you are next in conversation and find yourself reacting negatively, ask yourself what else might be going on. Be a discerner and not a mocker.
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The Revd John Ryeland, Director of The Christian Healing Mission
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