One of the important things I have always struggled with in my faith is discernment. Dictionary.com reveals the definition of discernment in the Christian context as the “perception in the absence of judgment to obtain spiritual guidance and understanding.” Honestly, I’m not 100% sure what that means. My context of discernment is figuring out what is of God and what is of me. Are the choices I am making led by God or my own selfishness? And how do we know the difference?
Whenever I have a big decision to make, I pray about it. Sometimes I get a pretty clear answer. Sometimes I receive no answer at all, so I wing it and pray for the best. What about our small day-to-day decisions? Or the decision to say something that may not need to be told? How do we know if it is God’s voice or our own?
Some would say these voices should match up. That our inner voice should be God’s voice and they should be the same. We should be so in tune with God that the answers are the same. What if you’re newer to this or even if you aren’t, aren’t we all human? We all have our imperfections and selfish choices pop up from time to time even in the most seasoned believers.
Also, many will say, “Well, is the choice you are making of the Bible?” Great question. My only problem with that is the bible doesn’t say anything about new world decisions such as today’s parenting problems, who to vote for in the next election, switching jobs/professions, today’s confrontations, etc. Many situations could be explained by piecing together verses, but not all.
There are a few points that we can make when trying to decide if the choice we are making is of God or of ourselves.
- God’s voice never contradicts any scripture – If there are any pieces of scripture that tell you not to do what you are considering to do then it is not of God.
- God’s voice will only speak to you about your heart, not others – This is a tough one for me to grasp because I can read certain things and I’m like, oh, that would be helpful to so and so, forgetting how helpful that would be to me.
- God will focus on the heart of the situation – Which is why sometimes we find God silent and not giving us direct answers. We need to dig deeper to find the deeper answer.
I am currently working on ways to make the discernment easier. Slowing down in life is a huge one. I tend to keep busy and stay busy, making it very difficult to spend much time hearing God in the quiet. How can He give me an answer if I am constantly moving?
It is also ok to rely on others’ Godly counsel. To rely on your own faith and counsel can be detrimental. Just because you are strong in your religion doesn’t mean that someone else can’t help you see things from a different perspective. Rely on God for the majority of items but God also uses people for His purpose and you can turn to those you trust. Just make sure their suggestions also align with God’s word and it is trustworthy Godly counsel that is being given.
Spending time in God’s word and prayer will help tremendously. The more you know about God and His word, the easier you will see if it is something He would suggest or if it is your own selfish desires. And when I mean spending time in His word, it isn’t reading the bible for five minutes (which is better than none at all, and some days all that can be mustered and that is ok) but what I mean is to really study His word throughout the Bible because let’s be honest the old testament is very different from the new testament. Which is the difference between God the Father and God the Son. I believe that God the Holy Spirit is the one we receive the discernment from the most and if you aren’t close to the other two you aren’t getting feedback from the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes denying that it is God’s voice is our rejection of whatever decision was made due to it not being the answer we wanted or a difficult road to take. This then comes back to our own selfishness and our own path that will lead to a much more difficult route down the road rather than to our ‘promised land’. Praying for open eyes, open ears, and correct discernment I feel is vital to hearing the decisions that God wants us to make.
Galatians 5:16-17 NLT “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”
Jeremiah 23:35-40 NLT “You should keep asking each other, ‘What is the Lord’s answer?’ or ‘What is the Lord saying?’ But stop using this phrase, ‘prophecy from the Lord.’ For people are using it to give authority to their own ideas, turning upside down the words of our God, the living God, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” “This is what you should say to the prophets: ‘What is the Lord’s answer?’ or ‘What is the Lord saying?’ But suppose they respond, ‘This is a prophecy from the Lord!’ Then you should say, ‘This is what the Lord says: Because you have used this phrase, “prophecy from the Lord,” even though I warned you not to use it, I will forget you completely. I will expel you from my presence, along with this city that I gave to you and your ancestors. And I will you an object of ridicule, and your name will be infamous throughout the ages.’”
Psalm 119:105 NLT “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”
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