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Discernment

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment.

Philippians 1:9
Discernment Book Cover

hear the jazz

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.

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.

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Daily Question

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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Comments (2)

I am aiming each day to read some scripture each night, listen to scripture each morning as I get ready, and find some time to pray even if just for a few minutes. These are baby steps, because for so long I was running on empty with my faith, turning to other distractions to keep me in control of outcomes with my kids and events around me. I have felt a huge revamp of my mind and I know that is just the tip of the iceberg. God has pushed me out of my comfort zone even in the past month and I am ready and willing. Now moving into the season of being able to gradually see friends again, and communicate outside of the tech world, I really want to be more discerning instead of the cliche statements I would use when talking with a friend or trying to listen while I watch where my toddler is. Yes god (and our friends) has grace in motherhood and knows our brains are foggy and all over the place. But in the midst of that, I can still learn and practice to observe and see what is most needed or even simply needed for my close friends. And stemming out from that, discernment in daily conversation with those who I encounter and need a listening ear and/or advice. I am teaching my kids the basic idea of the Holy Spirt and the little devotions are teaching me at the same time. Right from wrong, helping to go through the day seeing what can be done to help, be kind, loving, and understanding of what others need and also discernment on truth of God
vs Satan’s lies.

I think I first need to be a better friend to myself so I can be the friend that the ones I love the most need. I need to take the time to have good rest, good nutrition, time in prayer, time in meditation, yoga, nature, and me time/self care. Along with this I have more love for myself so I can give me love out. Right now I feel like I have been running on empty trying to be the best mother I can be during the pandemic. It is challenging and I thank God for my husband being here with me along for the ride and also to have the sound advice of my loving parents and friends.

To be a good friend, I need to first take some time, some quiet time, so I can truly live in the moment and really just breath. Let me breath do the work and so I can let it all in. This helps me connect and so along with this I have some methods to get there which I already spoke about. If I can work on these habits, then I can increase my ability to discern God’s truth and therefore become a better friend. Instead of just feeling the need to talk because of my high anxious type of personality, I need to sit back and just be….just listen. While keeping my friends and family in prayer, I am then open and increase my level of awareness for what they truly need in their time. The timing and the quiet is what I need to work on most.

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