Spiritual Discernment – Inviting God Into Your Decisions
We make decisions every day – some are little and some big. Deciding what clothes we wear, what food we eat, the music we listen to or even what we watch on Netflix are little decisions, but over time they make an impact on our life. In addition, there are some big decisions that we make – who we marry, what job we take, what house or car we buy and where we live that have huge implications. In fact, if you think about it, our life is pretty much comprised of the decisions we make – the little and the big. Discernment is important in every decision we make. Spiritual discernment is essential in our lives. God is sovereign and He has a great plan for our lives. Romans 12:2 says, “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” This means that God has a “perfect will” for your life. However, by the decisions we make, we can end up settling for merely God’s “pleasing will” or even God’s “good will.” Yet, God wants the very best for us!
Knowing what God wants us to do and where God wants us to go is at the heart of every Christ-follower. But, how? How do we know what God wants us to do? This is discernment. Discerning God’s will in every decision we make. People often ask me for prayers or advice on decisions in their lives. Most of the time, this centers around the bigger decisions such as a job or even career change, a person they are dating and trying to decide if they are the one to marry, a decision about which college to attend or a large financial expenditure, like buying a house. I count it an honor to pray with them and for them in whatever they are facing and although their discernment process is their own journey, they are certainly starting at the right place. When seeking discernment in my own life, I've identified this five-step process for gaining and growing in discernment with every decision:
Pray about it – I believe in the power of prayer. God tells us, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8) God wants us to ask! Praying invites God into the decision. So often we set out to solve the problem thinking we don’t need God. But, God wants to be involved in every area of our life. No decision is too small or too big for God.
How does it align with Scripture – God will not call you to do something outside of His Word. For instance, if buying a new car means you will take on too much debt, then it is probably not the right decision. Maybe you need to save more before buying the car, or you need to buy a cheaper car. Also, God’s Word teaches us not to be “unequally yoked;” therefore, you should not marry someone who is not a Christ-follower. They don’t have to agree with you on every doctrinal issue, but this foundation must be right. God gives us His Word to reveal His character and His will for us. Make sure that every decision lines up with His Word.
Make a list of pros and cons – This is a part of spiritual discernment that many people skip. God gave us a brain, and He wants us to use it. Jesus said, “Be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.” Does the decision make common sense? Do the pros outweigh the cons. Maybe it is a new job – does your decision take into account the impact on your family, community, health benefits, personal growth – it is not always the job offer with the most money that wins. This even comes back to the food you eat and the things you watch. As the apostle Paul writes, “Everything is permissable (because of grace), but not everything is beneficial.” (1 Corinthians 10:23) Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. However, sometimes God calls us to steps of faith that defy logic. Be discerning.
Seek wise counsel – We all have blindspots. We need others to look at decisions from a different perspective as well as to take the personal emotion out of it. Proverbs 10:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Don’t be afraid, or too prideful, to ask for help or advice. Ask people who you know will be honest with you. Also, be willing to go to a Christian Counselor who can help you discern. The most important part is making the right decision, not that you are right. Be willing to listen. Many times God speaks to you through others.
Fast – When I have big decisions to make, many times I invest in some kind of fast. Fasting is when you give up food, social media or something else for a certain period of time (sun up to sun down, or even three days, a week, etc.) in order to not be distracted by the things of this world and focus on listening to God. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” God wants you to know what He wants you to do. Ask Him. And, then make the commitment to put yourself in a posture to receive from Him.
The Christian life is a journey of faith – and that is what makes it so exciting. It is learning to be dependent on God. Growing in your love for Him and your ability to hear His voice. This is discernment, and this leads to spiritual depth and greater impact for the Kingdom. Commit every decision to the Lord. God wants you to succeed. He wants you to know His perfect will for your life. Understand the importance of discernment in every decision you make. Follow this 5-step process, and I guarantee you will make wise decisions. And, now, let’s live it all for the glory of our great God!
Jeff Simmons is the Founder and Lead Pastor of Rolling Hills Community Church in Franklin, TN. He also serves as the President of Justice & Mercy International, a nonprofit that exists to make justice personal for the poor, the orphaned and the forgotten of the world. His faith in God and role as husband and father motivates him to be the leader he is and to do the work he has been called to.
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