Imagine walking down a path on a foggy day. You hear laughter and strain to see who is ahead of you. Two blurry figures emerge from the mist. Then you see two boys tossing a ball into the air for the other to catch. You smile. You know enough about fog, boys, and balls to move closer to the side of the path.
Christian discernment sometimes feels like walking through fog. We strain to know what is and is not of God. We have this assurance—God walks with us on the path. He gives us everything we need to know and serve him.
God himself is the source of discernment. He has given us his Word, the Holy Spirit, and the body of Christ—the Church—that enable us to grow in him. God clears the fog. He gives us clarity.
Discernment is separating truth from lies, right from wrong. It pertains to how we digest what is presented to us. What do we take in? What do we spit out?
Discernment is first a rational process. We use our intellect to understand what God has revealed about himself and his creation in Scripture. It’s a skill we can learn. We apply what he says in Scripture when we seek his holiness. We love and obey him.
Our goal is to see the world through God’s eyes. We study and equip ourselves to discern and grapple with what is and is not of him. Children of God want to please the Father.
Discernment is closely aligned with wisdom.
The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction (Prov 16:21).
- A friend listens with compassion when a friend reveals a serious illness. It is not the time to give a lecture on preventative care.
- A friend betrays us. We understand that when all is said and done, God wants us to forgive him or her in our heart.
- People are hungry, we feed them.
- When it seems that evil has won, we understand that this earth is not our true home. We believe that Christ will come again in judgment in all his glory. We will reign with him forever!
How do we know these things? Because God reveals them in his Word. He tells us about Jesus, the author of our faith, who makes it possible for us to have fellowship with God. In Col 1:28-19, the Apostle Paul wrote,
He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.
God himself leads us to clarity. He lifts the fog, and we see him.