Discernment’s twin is observation. They are both born of truth. People who discern also observe. They catch the details. Often, they are high-sensory people—tuned in to the smell of their coffee, the heat on their tongue, the corrugated cardboard sleeve on the cup, the beauty of the creamer swirling through the dark liquid as they pour, the sound of jazz playing. Perhaps thanks to the caffeine, such people are keenly awake to the world. If we want to be friends who discern God’s truth, we must first be friends who observe.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment.
hear the jazz
discernment, part a: how do we get it?
Discernment doesn’t arrive by ride share or delivery service. We cannot consult an app and schedule it to pull up along the curb and tell us to hop in. To arrive at discernment, we must buckle ourselves into the driver’s seat and take the long way. We must crank up our favorite hype music and watch the landscape closely as it passes by like postcards from heaven—vignettes with one message: Learn to look, for I AM often in the overlooked.
While Scripture says that we receive discernment as a gift of the Spirit, it also says that we can ask God for it. This should comfort those of us who may feel inadequate when confronted with situations that call for discernment. We can trust God to help us understand his Word and apply it, and we can have peace that he is with us when we are together with our friends. Without discernment, we may unintentionally hurt our friends, or counsel them to act outside God’s boundaries for abundant living. Have you ever heard a remark like “let go and let God!” at a time when you had to make an important decision? Or the other popular slogan—“It’s a God thing!”—when something coincidentally good happened? The reason these statements are tempting to say—and grating to receive—is that they minimize the complexities of discernment, human responsibility, and the work of the Spirit. In a culture crowded with “influencers” and “input,” it can be difficult to cull wisdom from what is nothing more than dressy drivel. If observation requires us to be awake and hear the jazz playing, discernment requires us to abide in Christ and hear the whispers of his Spirit.
discernment, part b: when do we give it?
Our friends need us to speak truth into their lives, and we need them to do the same for us. If we steep ourselves in God’s Word regularly, we will be able to pour wisdom into a friend’s empty cup at just the right time like a healing tea. The habits of observing, reading God’s Word, and praying not only give us discernment, but also proper timing. If we have practiced observation, we will notice when a friend’s heart is too tender for a rebuke, no matter how gentle, or when a kick in the pants is just the jolt she needs. If we have read Scripture regularly and studied it, we will be able to offer its sound counsel rather than our own knee-jerk reactions or biased opinions. If we have prayed for our friend routinely, we will have opened ourselves up already to the Spirit’s guidance. Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold a setting of silver.” Discernment given at the right time is like a caramel latte with a heart-shaped swirl of cream. Nothing is more delicious to the soul.
Watch Session Three
the profile of a friend
How do your current habits hinder or help your ability to discern God’s truth? What do you need to do to become a better friend in this area?
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