In today’s world, impatience is all too common a trait. We want food, help, and information fast. Just waiting for the computer to boot up or the “next avail-able agent” to answer our call can cause frustration. But the Lord specializes in slow, steady work. He’s more interested in a quality outcome than a speedy process.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of spiritual discernment. When we become Christians, we aren’t instantly wise and knowledgeable. It takes a lifetime to grow to maturity. Some believers, however, don’t seem to grow up at all. They get older, but their understanding of God’s Word never goes very deep.
This lack of godly wisdom is caused by ignorance of the Scriptures, apathy and complacency about spiritual things, and a failure to apply biblical truths. Discernment requires time and effort. You can’t simply move through life, thoughtlessly reacting to situations yet never learning from them. Take time to reflect on your responses and observe the consequences of your actions and choices. If you feel convicted by what you notice, let that motivate you to begin a lifelong pursuit of the Lord and His ways. Start reading the Bible regularly. And as you do, ask the Lord to open your heart and mind to understand what He’s saying.
But just reading God’s Word isn’t enough. Without applying what you’ve read, all you’ll have is head knowledge. Obedience trains us to discern good and evil. Through practice, we learn wisdom and develop spiritual maturity. If you’ll begin today and patiently persevere, in time discernment will come.
The Power Source for Discernment
Spiritual discernment is a supernatural ability, which requires supernatural power. In our human strength, we can rely only on what we see, hear, feel, and know in order to make decisions and evaluate circumstances and relationships. But when the Holy Spirit comes to live within us, He opens up an entirely new dimension of understanding. He shows us things we could never figure out by ourselves.
Although the Bible is the basis for spiritual discernment, without the interpreting power of the Spirit, reading it would be strictly an academic endeavor. But the Spirit takes the words and brings them to life in the hearts of those who have trusted Christ as their Savior. He knows precisely how to apply God’s Word to our exact need at just the right moment. Haven’t you found this to be true? You’ve read a passage many times, but just when you need a particular message, that familiar verse jumps off the page right into your heart.
That’s the work of the Spirit. He is the only one who knows the thoughts of the Father, and His job is to open our minds to understand “the things freely given to us by God” (v. 12). The Lord isn’t trying to hide His thoughts from us; rather, He wants us to know how He thinks so that we can proceed wisely.
So what should we do if we’re struggling to understand Scripture? First of all, the Lord wants us to seek Him and ask for wisdom to comprehend. This requires time and energy invested in Bible study and prayer. Second, the more yielded we are to the Spirit, the more we’ll be able to hear His voice.