Life, too, can be much like figuring out a recipe. For the best possible outcome, you need to start with good ingredients, such as discernment and wisdom. Next, apply appropriate directions, or guidance. You can’t always anticipate the final product, but chances are, if you decide to randomly throw ingredients together, not following a plan, you may not be thrilled with the results.
What does all this have to do with trouble and discernment?
In our busy everyday lives, we are faced with a multitude of choices: choices about our relationships, our jobs, our time, our money, even about our own selves and our behaviors. Some choices are more straight- forward and the end result can easily be anticipated. Often times, a bit more planning and discernment is needed in order to recognize and avoid trouble and make positive healthy choices that lead to success. After all, if the positive consequences of our actions could be foretold, most of us would have little trouble selecting the best choices. Or would we?
Unfortunately for us, a bad recipe or a destructive decision isn’t always as easy to detect as we might imagine. Why? It’s often disguised as a good recipe, of sorts. Trouble doesn’t usually show it’s true face, but rather, a deceptive presentation. It is often meant to look like fun, excitement or even a good ingredient. We’re not talking about the kind of fun that gives you a belly laugh nor the excitement that reaches your soul. We are looking at the empty promises that cause destruction, rather than the promised outcome. Promises for a bright future often accompany trouble, as it cunningly seeks to lure you to the edge of a pit. Just like the combination of the wrong ingredients in a cooking recipe, the power of bad ingredients in life can lead to a unexpected, destructive explosion.
Learning to decipher which ingredients belong together and which ones are to be avoided can take practice. Often, a recipe for success requires the discerning eye and experience of someone wiser than us.
There exists a fairly understandable and functional description of what discernment looks like in Beth Moore’s study guide, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. Beth describes discernment this way,
discernment is the ability to see through what may not be completely obvious to the eye… discernment sees trouble, senses a warning, and cites the need for caution.
Two main ingredients are key for understanding and gaining the kind of life giving discernment we need for success:
1. It’s imperative that we are aware of the crucial role the Holy Spirit of God plays in giving us true discernment. Only in a consistently conscious connection with God, will we be able to receive His discernment, when we need it most.
Think of it like this, if we wanted to gain knowledge and understanding from someone, beyond what the individual shares in a published work, it would be wise for us to cultivate an authentic relationship with him or her (supposing that we can do so with this person).
So it is with God. In order to go beyond our head knowledge of Him and enter into heart understanding, we must first accept His invitation to a loving and trusting relationship. Within those boundaries, we will be able to ask for discernment or whatever we are in need of and know that He hears us and delights in answering us. His word testifies to this reality.
2. A second, but equally important factor in having discernment is to pray about and cultivate relationships of authentic accountability. Just like we may get stuck with a recipe and need to call someone for cooking advice, we can experience this when faced with the tougher decision of life.
Talking things over with those trusted individuals in whom we have invested ourselves, and they likewise in us, can bring new understanding and a better sense of direction.
In addition to helping us see the risks of certain decisions, or pointing out any weak areas for us, our accountability friends need to have a keen sense of our strengths. As paraphrased from Beth Moore, the thought of having warning without some encouragement and guidance could be rather counter productive.
Discernment from God can come through others, especially when we are struggling with a choice. Make sure, however, that you choose wisely those you confide in. After all, if you are going to be vulnerable enough to let someone see your weak areas and guide you through them, you would be wise to choose a trusted individual, with proven experience, who has your best interest at heart. That requires discernement.
Like following the directions of a trusted recipe and using correct ingredients, applying these Key ingredients for obtaining discernment and avoiding trouble, as far as it’s up to you, can prove to make all the difference in the final outcome of your choices, not only for you, but for those who are a vital part of your life.