Honing the Gift of Discernment November 14, 2019
I have always been a trusting person … very trusting for that matter. This brought about a lot of stupid decisions which eventually made me accept that I lacked what the world calls “gut-feel”. I had to go through several humbling experiences for me to finally realize that I needed discernment.
When I found out that I can ask spiritual gifts from God, the first thing I asked for was discernment, the second one was wisdom. I didn’t know then that these two gifts are so closely related to each other; one can’t exist without the other.
Let me define first, in my own words, what discernment and wisdom are.
Discernment is the ability to see the result of things even before it happens. It is being able to see the real characteristics of a person without knowing her too well. It is an inner knowing of what will be a better decision. It is knowing when the right timing is. It is the ability to sense a good or bad business deal or a partnership.
Wisdom is the ability to make good decisions. It is the knack for planning and strategizing in a very calculated way, to achieve the desired results. It is knowing when to plan and when to attack; when to stop and when to move; and when to be quiet and when to talk. Wisdom is the ability to make the best choice among different options.
With these definitions of discernment and wisdom, it is very clear that the two go together, side by side. Discernment comes as a result of wisdom and wisdom can’t stand alone without discernment.
When I began to pray for wisdom, I researched Scriptures in the Bible referring to this word. I was then led to Proverbs 9:10
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
This is where everything starts. Fear of the Lord is not being scared of an angry and fierce God but having high respect for a holy God. It begins by recognizing and acknowledging that there is a Supreme being greater than anyone else … a God who holds the entire universe on the palm of His hands … a God who sees your thoughts from afar … a God who knows His plans for you and that they are perfect … a God who is pure and perfect.
Fear of the Lord is a reverential fear. You stand in awe of Him because of how magnificent He is. His very nature commands respect. His presence makes your legs wobble and makes you drop down prostrated before Him. This understanding of the greatness of God only comes from the desire to know Him, which is a by-product of surrender. God Himself will not force anyone to revere Him. Only the devil does that. God gave man the freewill to choose to surrender to Him and therefore know Him, which leads to the fear of Him, which begets wisdom.
No one can know God outside of a personal encounter with Him and His Word.
Let’s talk about the personal encounter first.
No amount of going to church or being religious will make you know God unless you have experienced Him personally. This experience is life-changing. It hits you strongly, down to the depth of your soul. It is that moment when you finally know in your heart that He exists and that He loves you. Most of the time, it is a life and death situation that make us reach this point.
This personal encounter captivates you, making you more curious about God. Because you have experienced Him, you want more of Him. It’s like a drug that makes you want something more and more. He is indeed the only addiction that is healthy.
Now let’s talk about the next one … His Word.
When we pray, we talk to God; when we read His Word, He talks to us.
God’s Word is not simply something that men wrote. His Word are His words penned by men. An encounter with God is the prerequisite to even understanding His Word and hearing His voice through it. Simply reading the Bible will not make you hear His voice. The quickening in your spirit as you read His Word is what makes the distinction.
I was born and raised Catholic and read the Bible only for my school work (I went to Catholic schools). I went to church every Sunday and participated in all traditions of the church. I knew about God but didn’t know God … until I had my personal encounter. After that, the Bible became God’s love letters to me. I will never forget that day when I opened my Bible after my encounter. I felt the words jumping out of the pages and speaking to me like God was there talking to me in person. That was the beginning of my journey of knowing God, having reverential fear of Him, and gaining wisdom.
God’s Word is meant to lead us to the right path. It was instituted by God so that we know which road to follow. It was designed to make us wise. The more we get deeper in the Word, the wiser we become. The more intimate we become with Him, the more we will know Him, and the more we will be able to tap into His wisdom.
Intimacy with God is developed through spending undivided time alone with Him, everyday, through prayer and study of His Word. This intimacy will make a believer sensitive to the Spirit of God. Developing this sensitivity to God’s Spirit is the essence of discernment.
Honing the gift of discernment also entails having the right kind of people around you. These are people you can consult when you need to make major decisions, or when you need confirmation about a decision you have to make.
Proverbs 11:4 says: In the multitude of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 15:22 further says: Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.
Be careful who you allow to be in your inner circle.
Another way to hone the gift of discernment is to learn from your experience.
Our failures are opportunities for us to make wiser decisions.
Look back at the failed relationships you’ve had, a failed business, a stupid decision. Ask God to expose to you what you did wrong. Most of the times, these failures are deeper than it is. It may be an issue on hunger for acceptance, or an impatience issue, or lack of discipline. Knowing what your weak points and issues are will help you avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
Honing the gift of discernment also comes as a result of knowing the Word of God, in all angles. Let me give you an example here. Hebrews 13:2 instructs us to show hospitality to strangers. If we just follow this Word without looking at other Scriptures, we may end up inviting a criminal to our home, endangering our entire family. Let us now look at another Scripture that will balance this out. Colossians 4:5 instructs us to behave ourselves wisely (living prudently and with discretion) in our relations with the outside world, making the very most of the time.
I truly believe that “balance” is a key factor of wisdom and discernment. 1 Peter 5:8-9 says: Be well balanced, be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring (in fierce hunger), seeking someone to seize upon and devour. God is a God of balance. For every Scripture we have in the Bible, there is something that balances it out, just like those two previous Scriptures: one was about entertaining strangers, the other one about being wise with our dealings with the outside world.
Another advice I can give you on how to hone the gift of discernment is to learn to wait patiently. Being still before God brings about tremendous benefits. It allows Him to reveal to you His deeper plans.
Most of my stupid decisions came as a result of being too excited to jump into something.
I was so busy thinking and moving that I didn’t hear the voice of God clearly.
Finally, follow your spiritual instincts. (Of course, this will only come as a result of spending time with God and His Word on a daily basis). You will know from the depths of your spirit if something is from God or not, and whether it is His perfect time or not.
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