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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Salter Goodwin

How Spiritual Discernment Will Grow Us

We try hard to keep our bodies and minds from unnecessary or early atrophy.

Will we do the same for spiritual growth?

Contrary to what many think, growing spiritually is not about gathering more knowledge or going to more Bible studies. Hearing Truth doesn’t grow us. We must obey the Truth.

Spiritual discernment directs us to the Truth we need to obey. That’s why recognizing and listening to God’s voice is the most important part of growth. (See Can I Really Know How to Recognize God’s Voice and How Can I know God’s Will?)

How does spiritual discernment accomplish this growth? Let me share 3 important connections between spiritual discernment and spiritual growth.

Spiritual discernment grows the mind of Christ in me.

I Corinthians 2: 16 says, But we have the mind of Christ.

And later Paul elaborates on what that means, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.. (I Corinthians 2:16)

The mind of Christ connects us to Truth about our attitudes, motives, goals, habits—everything. Truth makes something whole and better. Truth protects us from false or destructive excuses and rationalizations. We need God’s Truth in all areas of our lives.

When we accepted Christ as savior and committed to follow him, he gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit because God knew we couldn’t sort out everything for ourselves. I Corinthians 2:12 reminds us that . . .

We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God,

that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak,

not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit,

expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.

Without depending on the Holy Spirit, the presence and voice of Jesus in our lives, we fall back on our best thoughts and hope they are good enough. Good enough is not a spiritual growth measurement.

Spiritual discernment keeps me grounded in God’s Word.

We must keep enlarging our understanding of God’s Word. We ask God to give us a hunger and thirst for it. The Holy Spirit promises to help us recall and apply God’s principles, but He can’t help us remember what we haven’t read.

I have heard a lifetime of good Bible Truth from pastors, teachers, and writers. I don’t remember half of it. But when God’s Spirit meets me in God’s Word, it becomes an exclamation point in my life that the Holy Spirit uses again.

Spiritual discernment keeps me listening for God.

Spiritual discernment helps us understand that God always knows better than we know. We ask God about what is best about attitudes, behavior, and motives. Then, we obey what He says. How can we not grow if that becomes our go-to rhythm?

My easiest strategy for reaching this goal is to turn self-talk into God-talk. Instead of talking to ourselves about what we should do and how to do it, talk to God about it. The more we look for His direction, the more we are ready to hear Him the next time..

Practice following small nudges first. Maybe it’s a priority order for the day or which child needs your time, or how to neutralize negative self-talk. God has a whisper of encouragement and direction no matter what the issue is. He points us to the best not the good enough. His best grows us.

I hope you are recognizing how spiritual discernment is God’s gift to us to keep us growing in Christ. Growth is the gift, not the effort. Listening is the strategy. Never doubt a direction that helps you live God’s Word. Just obey and see what happens. Gather more listening and obeying experiences and you will see more growth without struggle. Then, the Emanuel promise is no longer what you remember at Christmas. You live in His presence and by his direction every day. Why would we want to live any other way?

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