Optometrist Versus Dentist

If you have lived any length of time you have probably made at least one visit to the optometrist and to the dentist.  Of course, if your vision is perfect the number of visits to the optometrist have been few.  As with many people I only dread going to the optometrist because of the possible expense involved.  But, I dread going to the dentist for different reasons.  I’m told (and don’t know that this is an established fact) that dentists suffer one of the highest rates of suicide among the various professions.  I don’t know if this statistic is true, or if it is just an urban myth, but it does make some sense.  After all, how many people would like to be in a profession where you are hated or dreaded, and people are fearful every time they meet you?

On the other hand, I can’t recall ever being fearful of going to the optometrist.  Of course, the same could hold true of other professions.  I sometimes dread going to see the doctor, but rarely dread going to see the barber.  The worst thing the barber can do is create a situation that will take me a few weeks to straighten out, or cause me to shower again because of the loose hair down my back.  On the other hand, a visit to the doctor is sometimes a complete unknown.

Now, why is this topic important?  It is important because it helps illustrate why we sometimes cannot understand or interpret what God is doing in our lives, around our lives, and in the lives of others.  So, let’s break this down further…

Visit to optometrist – Good.  Visit to dentist – Bad.  Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it?  But, wait, is it that simple?  This assessment is based purely on our dread factor, or anticipation of pain or discomfort.  It is not mostly based on the end result, or long term result.  Looking at things this way, we can then determine how accurate our other assessments are.  If we solely look at the pain level involved we would come to the following:

pain or discomfort – Bad

joy, excitement, happiness, (or lack of pain) – Good

Well, it seems a bit silly to assess everything in that way, doesn’t it?  Especially as we grow older, and presumably wiser.  College may be difficult, stressful, painful, and full of discomfort, but long-term it may yield very positive results.  Of course, when children are young this may be a difficult concept to get across.

No — using pain, or lack of pain, as a general measure for determining if something is good or bad is probably not going to be very accurate.  Yet, this is how we mostly assess God’s impact in our life.  If it feels good, then God must love me – if it feels bad, why does God not like me anymore?

The truth is – we don’t know what is good, and what is bad.  We only think we know.

We’ve been talking mostly about things in the physical realm, which would include physical, emotional, mental, etc…  But, if these things apply in the physical realm, then it stands to reason they might apply in the spiritual realm, also.  Just because something feels good, does not mean it is good.  And just because something feels bad, does not mean it is bad.  Of course, flipping things around is not an answer, either.  Because there are certainly things that feel good, that are, indeed, good.  And there are things that feel bad, that are, indeed, bad.  But, there are also those things that pretend to be something else.

The forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden pretended to be something that would make one wise.  And in a sense, this was true, as it would allow one to know the difference between good and evil.  But, there was a problem.  Up to the point that Adam and Eve ate of that tree they had only known good.  Evil was not a part of their existence or knowledge.  They were in paradise, where everything was good.  By eating of the forbidden fruit they gained knowledge of good and evil, but became prey for that which is evil.  In short, it opened a door that was better left shut.

So, now that we’ve established our ability to discern between good and evil is probably flawed (just because something is painful doesn’t mean it is bad, and vice-versa), then what are we supposed to do?  How will we know the difference?

If the difference between what is good and evil cannot be discerned by whether it is painful or not, and our ability to reason (to tell the difference between what is evil and what is good) is not very accurate, then what are we to do?

The answer is provided in Hebrews chapter 5, verses 12-14:

 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

While this is a somewhat complicated passage, and would take many pages to explain, the summation of this passage is not that hard.  Discernment of things good and evil only comes from the ability to get into the ‘meat’ of the Word.  But, one cannot just decide they will ‘eat’ of the meat of the Word.  It is a growth process, that progresses from milk to the meat in steps or stages.  The term ‘exercises’ in this passage relates to effort, which means simply it is not an ‘automatic’ thing, but requires exertion and effort on our part.

But, this ‘effort’ is not a mental or reasoning thing, it is a spiritual thing.  1 Corinthians 2:14 says it better than I can:

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

So, what is the summation of this discussion?  While we think we can tell whether something is evil or good, there is some doubt as to our accuracy.  To be able to truly tell the difference requires spiritual discernment which is reserved for those who are getting into the ‘meat’ of the Word.  Discernment between good and evil requires effort or exercise, or we might say, repeated practice.  It is not automatic, and it is not a natural thing.

Why is this important?

It is important because countless numbers of ‘good’ folks have considerable difficulty determining whether something is good or bad.  We know the simple things – robbery is bad – charity is good, but when it comes to other parts or areas of life we are at a total loss.  We make bad choices, for all the right reasons.  We become confused when there is pain or discomfort, wondering whether God has forgotten us, or is displeased with us.  Our ability to sort these things out is challenged, and we do not always know which course to take.

But, it is not God’s practice to keep His children in confusion.  He wants us to know what His will is.  He wants us to make the right choices in our life.  He wants us to succeed.

I would like to say more, but I’ve run out of time and space… so until next time…

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One Response to “Optometrist Versus Dentist”

  1. beamcguire@gmail.com Says:

    If there is ever a day we are living in that a Christian needs discernment it is today! I ask God for wisdom and discernment daily because it is getting harder and harder with each passing day. Truly evil is at an all time high! Thank you for this blog. Discernment is often overlooked but something that is a must in our daily walk with Him! Blessings…

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