The Prophetic Gift Of Measurement
Handling Those "Nasty" Discernments of Others
Then there was given me a measuring reed like a staff; and someone said, "Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it." Rev. 11:1
Intrinsic to the prophetic nature is the power of prophetic discernment. Often mistaken for the carnal force of personal criticism, prophetic discernment is a divine power that takes measurements and lays divine plumb lines regarding the actions and attitudes of others, as well as the spiritual direction of churches and even nations. This power to measure and evaluate spiritual estates is a gift to the body of Christ in accord with Ephesians 4.
The prophetic gift of measurement is demonstrated in Revelation 11. Here, John is instructed to "measure the temple—and those who worship in it." That is, John is specifically called to perceive—discern—evaluate the spiritual state of the Lord's people against the objective standard of the "reed," which is the living Word of God. It is a spiritual, not carnal, perceiving.
But under the burden of this gift, a forever question arises for prophetic people:
"How do I handle these perceptions of others?
The problem in bearing these discernments is that, more often than not, they are corrective in nature. The reason they are corrective is because the purpose of the prophetic gift is to propel people forward from lesser to greater perfection in conforming to God's will. Increasing perfection in Christ is what the prophetic nature is all about. And the fact is that spiritual life can't move forward toward the standard of God's Life without being made aware of where it falls short of that standard.
To Judge Or Not To Judge?
A common shibboleth runs through the church that simply says, "Don't judge. Stop judging." This is of course heard all the time. It sounds right. It is certainly the Lord's own word. And it does have a context.
But the trouble is that this word is issued without regard to understanding the prophetic nature and its purpose. It is used to deny the validity of the prophetic gift for measurement altogether. (Strange as it may seem, some entire streams within today's prophetic movement live in utter denial of this basic aspect of the prophetic nature—relegating prophecy only to the realm of promises and encouragements.)
As commonly spoken without further delineation, telling prophets, "Don't judge" both commands them to live contrary to their spiritual nature and ascribes evil to that nature at the same time. This is like charging all evangelists to, "Quit proselytizing," or all pastors, "Stop pampering."
No member of the body of Christ can be commanded to live contrary to their implanted nature. You may as well tell the sun to stop shining, or command an open eye not to see. As well, no member should have his nature falsely accused as being illegitimate. This includes the prophetic gift of measurement. The Lord Himself commanded, "Judge righteous judgment."
- "Judge Not"
Nevertheless, there is vital truth in the command not to judge. But how does it properly apply to the gift of measurement?
Most certainly, only God has the right to execute sentence on anyone for willful failure to move toward conformity with His standard. Moreover, all people are accountable in the direct sense only to the Lord for what becomes of their lives.
Frankly, no one (in their right mind) wants to feel held hostage under the power of someone else's prophetic "ray gun," nor should they be. Remember, though John was given the reed to take measurements, he was not given the authority to beat anybody with it. He was only to measure! (This prophetic rod of measurement is not the same rod as the "rod of iron" in Rev. 2)
Yet without training in discerning the limits of their gift for measurement, fledgling and immature prophets routinely convert their reed into a rod not given them, crossing the line into issuing personal judgments that belong to God alone. They hold others accountable to themselves for how they respond or fail to respond to the true discernments they have received. They may do this only in their hearts. Or they may actually be openly controlling. (Some closed churches and cult communities exist under the tyranny of a controlling "prophet" in this way.)
Not all prophetic natured saints end up like this. But every sincere prophet does wrestle with this penetrating, soul-searching issue of how to handle the gift for measuring the temple.
Evaluating Without Judging
So what does one do? A prophet cannot deny what he perceives. He cannot pretend that the sky is green or that naked spiritual emperors have clothes. And he feels both a solemn burden and responsibility to communicate that perception. Yet he truly does not want to sit in the seat of the scornful—i.e., the seat of personal judgment. And he also wants to have more to offer others in fellowship than just measurements of their lives and ministries!
The following pointers can prove helpful in overcoming in this struggle. They can help us learn how to steward the gift for measuring without crossing that forbidden line into personal judging. Consider them with care:
1. Divorce Your Gift from Your Identity (Don't "become" your gift).
Realize that self worth in Christ is not pegged to the power for perceptive discernment of others. The gift for measurement is not the measure of who one is in the Lord. We all stand accepted simply for who we are in Him.
Carnal personal judging results from identifying ourselves and measuring our self worth by our gift of measurement, rather than in the Lord alone. When we receive measurements, if we also esteem ourselves by them, then they become immediately tainted by pride. And when we are resisted over them, we feel compelled of the flesh to defend our gift. In this way, the Lord's true observations within us become corrupted into personal judgments.
Let God separate your identity in Him from your power for perception. Don't define yourself by it or esteem your worth in terms of the measurements entrusted to you. In this way, your gift will not be lined with pride and you'll not be provoked into issuing personal judgment when it is resisted. Your gift may be touched, but you will not be. This makes all the difference.
2. Always—Release Your Measurements Back to the Lord. (Don't "own" Your Gift)
When you receive measurements of others through prophetic perception, do not hold onto them. Do not deny your perceptions. But don't harbor them, either. Do not possess them as if yours. Do not own your gift. For it is when we own our measurements that our gift again corrupts into personal judgment. As possessors of the measurements, we automatically become personal "hostage holders" of those measured.
Instead, you must continually release your perceptions back to the Lord for His purposes and executions. Release others from your own expectations on them regarding your measurements. Take yourself out of the way of what you see!
In so doing, you preserve an objective redemptive heart toward the offenders of His standards. You also disable the carnal power of personal hostage holding that poisons your perceptions and gives others excuse to reject you as well as your insights. With a releasing heart, you will not cross the line into executing the Lord's judgment. The Lord will be free to minister His own grace or justice on His terms regarding what He has shown you.
3. Check Your Distraction Factor.
Never allow your measurements to turn your gaze away from the Lamb's Throne in your heart. Do not lose First Love.
Though you may bear the divine awareness of others' shortcomings, do not turn your heart to meditate over the ones to whom your measurements apply. Keep them in the background of your thoughts. Your ability to rightly steward the Lord's prophetic measurements utterly depends on your ability to remain intimately connected to Him within Your own heart—and this can only be done with a single eye.
4. Remember That God Always Sees More Than He Tells.
Possession of truth is not the permission to speak it. Just because God has revealed a corrective measurement to you does not mean He has automatically commissioned you to speak about it or confront it openly.
Seeing is part of the nature of the prophet. Eyes see many things. (And as it says, the Eyes of the Lord are everywhere.) Yet in real life, not everything an eye sees evokes comment. God sees far more imperfection than He comments on. As God's oracles, the same applies to prophets—His Eyes in the earth. We should seek His discernment for this. Before you speak what you have seen, you must first listen, listen, listen!
These few tips help us carry on our pursuit of God, preventing us from crossing the line into judgmentalism over our gifted perceptions concerning others' need for repentance and greater obedience. They will especially help us sift for the true line between what we really need to speak out about and what we do not.
Confronting Without Executing
Nevertheless, there are still those absolutely unavoidable times where the Lord requires prophets to present confrontive measurements to others, including to churches and church leaders. There are times when perceptions resist easy reflection back to the Lord and the inward fire refuses taming through intercession alone.
After you have proven the first four pointers above, and the inward fire still refuses to be silenced, then consider the remaining points below:
5. Choose Your "Battles" Carefully.
Again, not every perception carries the same weight of import. Divide between the "passing" and the "impassable" perceptions. "Impassables" are those measurements that the Lord simply deems too important in the given hour to "wink at" or, as we say, to "give a pass on." The burden will not let up.
Concerning impassables, proceed to seek the Lord for the wisdom and strategy for personally confronting others, and then only with an eye to redemption. Choose your ground wisely. Speak entreatingly of elders. Speak as redemptively as possible toward all. Be sure your demeanor indicates you are holding no one hostage to yourself personally.
6. Be sure your own life first passes muster under the same measurement.
Need one say more? (In case you hadn't heard, the Lord hates hypocrites.)
7. Testify, Don't Argue. Don't Prosecute.
We are all called to peace "as much as lies within us." Yes, even prophets. Unless specifically pressured under the penetrating unction of the Holy Spirit, we are not called to contend ongoingly over the measurements we receive.
Neither are we called to be prosecutors. The Holy Spirit is the only Prosecutor of spiritual truth in the hearts of men. Prophets are only "witnesses," called only to "testify to" what they have received, and then to move on. The Book of Revelation is clear. The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Witnesses, not the argument of Prosecutors.
So testify. Perceive when to stop speaking. Listen as much as you speak. And if there is no receptivity (which is so often the case), perceive when and how to close a prophetic encounter as gracefully as possible. Leave the results with the Lord. Release all accountability on the spot. And get back into worship!
Separating Without "Creating Division"
Contrary to the teaching of some unity advocates, separation remains a necessary evil within the mortal church. The Lord Himself said He came to produce separations. But, separation is the last resort, and how it is carried out matters greatly. It must be effected without the acrimony of what Paul calls "creating division."
Prophets must learn the subtle spiritual difference between serving as agents of divine "separation" (ie, the diamerismos "division" of Lk. 12:51) and being thorns of satanic "factionalism" (ie, the dichostasia "division" of Rom. 16:17). The importance of this distinction cannot be overstated.
These final points are offered to aid our dealing with this:
8. Handle Relational Separations with Utmost Care
When the overbearing conviction of a prophetic measurement makes it necessary for integrity's sake to move out of a spiritual relationship or a church, make your move carefully, with honor, as discreetly as possible, and retain the hope for future reconciliation.
To act discreetly, by the way, is the meaning of "covering" sin. Love covers sin—not by ignoring it through denial as is freely taught —but by handling sin with as much discretion as possible—confronting it as carefully as possible (or, as a friend of mine says, "care frontingly.")
If you need an illustration, just consider the difference between "pointing at" a naked person, "walking past" a naked person with a blind eye, and "putting a blanket" on a naked person. Love "covers" the person with the blanket. It covers by dealing with the situation. James 4:20 is clear. Love "confrontively covers."
9. Never, Never—Develop Fellowship Around Common Measurements of Others
Never gather sympathetic adherents to your measurements of others, especially measurements regarding churches and church leaders. Do not reach out to others for support, nor receive them when they come to you in agreement! If you do, your "fellowship" with them will be cursed from the beginning and will eventually dissolve in a factional division.
Woundings are an evil of this life, and they must find healing. But fellowship must always center on the One we love according to our common calling into Him—not on common measurements of others or the common woundings received on their account.
10. Except Where Absolutely Necessary, Do Not Converse About Measurements with Third Parties
To the Lord, measurements given to prophets about others are stamped "Confidential". When it comes to discussing measurements with third parties, silence must be the rule, not the exception. The only exceptions to silence must be where the Lord's unction overrules, or the welfare of third parties is imminently at stake, or a need for emotional healing requires guarded discussion of someone else's sin, or some similar extenuating factor is in force.
This goes doubly true where two or more prophetic people see the same things about another person or church. "Prophet gossip" is an abomination to the Lord.
Remembering that love requires us to "cover" the sins of others discreetly, the rule of love must govern our decisions to discuss prophetic measurements with third parties or as prophets among one another. If love does not rule these decisions, the Lord will eventually require you to make confession for this. Just don't do it!
A Starting Place Only
This article is only a beginning in approaching the volatile issue of corrective prophetic measurement. To be sure, it does not tell the complete story of prophetic authority—an authority that under extraordinary anointing has and will again bear the actual executionary power of God in the earth.
But that is a discussion for another time. Suffice it here to say that such authority cannot and will not be imparted to anyone who has not first matured through the disciplines involved in rightly stewarding the gift of measurements as presented in this writing. (Let the immature refrain from using Elijah's example to call down premature fires of personal judgment on the Lord's enemies!) Learning the art of the reed precedes entrustment with execution of the rod.
My prayer then today is that these few points will help prophetic people struggling under the burden of divine measurements in how to handle them. Know that your measurements are indeed of His gifted calling upon you. Do not be intimidated within or without because of them.
But learn to release your measurements to the Lord as quickly as possible, taking no more action than necessary to work redemptively and to otherwise maintain your central awareness of Him.
Because of the impartial poise these truths will minister through your own life, others will be predisposed to see past the offensiveness of your gift to appreciate the rest of who you are in the Lord.
But even if they do not, in all cases the Lord will be thoroughly pleased with you, and you will be as a golden vessel in His House.
New Meadow Neck, RI, USA
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created July 14, 2003