Picture this: We’re moving. My wife packs a box – LARGE box. Not heavy, but large; so large I cannot see over it and I cannot see around it. There are steps. How many? I do not know. So my thoughtful wife decides to count them for me as I carried the box down the steps so that I would know how to step.
My wife: 1…2…3…[silence]
THOUGHT: “Oh, that must be the last step.”
REALITY: “There are 4 steps!”
QUESTION: “Can my wife count higher than 3?” [this was also a thought, lest I suffer real pain]
I was walking by faith, not by sight. I had placed faith in my wife because I could not see. Scripture tells us in several places that
The just shall live by faith – Rom. 1:17
we walk by faith, not by sight – II Cor. 5:7
With these thoughts in mind, we realize that the life of faith requires discernment. Like Jacob, we must be able to discern because we can’t always see the next step of life that lay before us or know how to handle the situation bearing down on us. But how do we learn discernment?
Of whom [Jesus] we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. – Hebrews 5:11-14
According to these verses discernment comes from knowing the “oracles of God” – knowing God’s Word. Those “babes” in Christ were “unskillfull in the word of righteousness.” The mature individual, because he knew the Word and used the Word, had become skillful and their senses sharpened and they were able “to discern both good and evil.”
Many today have been lead astray because of a lack of knowledge and lack of exercise in the Scriptures. They trusted what man said about the Bible rather than what the Bible said about man. They did not have the knowledge and they did not search the Scriptures to identify “Thus saith the Lord….” Discernment requires a knowledge and use of the Word of God.
Discernment also relies on knowing the Spirit of God in a matter; being sensitive to His leading. We must empty ourselves of self and allow the Spirit to fill us, so that He can lead us.
And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. – Isaiah 30:21
In life, decisions are not always black and white. Jacob’s decision concerning the blessing of his grandchildren wasn’t a choice between “good and evil”, “right and wrong;” it was a decision based on the discerning the Spirit of God of what was best.
Whether is matters of “right and wrong”, “good and evil”, or “good, better and best”, our knowledge and use of Scripture, and our reliance on the Spirit of God are the foundations for discernment. Without them….