La labor del discernimiento en nuestro crecimiento espiritual

The work of discernment in our spiritual growth

Growth is a necessary survival function for all living beings. If a flower grows, it is alive. If it stops growing (or never does), it withers and dies. That's basic biology. The same is true for Christians. When the gospel saves us, it gives life in Christ to hearts that were dead (Col 2:13). We become spiritual newborns who are awake and hungry, thirsty shoots with eyes newly opened to the world. And immediately we started to grow.

That growth will never end. It is a sign that there is spiritual life. Inevitably we will continue to learn and grow and grow and learn, incessantly, forever. A Christian who does not grow is something unreal. Does not exist. Following Christ is being a lifelong learner. We grow because we are alive.

Discernment = growth

But we cannot grow without discernment. These two things are linked and it is impossible to separate them. What is discernment? It is the ability to define and act on the difference between good and bad, or as CH Spurgeon said, between “the good and the almost good.” It is looking at the landscape of our lives, examining everything we encounter and judging between good and bad, between biblical doctrine and false doctrine, between edifying and harmful entertainment, between holiness and sin. In 1 Thessalonians 5:21 we are called to “[put] everything to the test, [holding fast] to that which is good.” Growth and insight are like a cycle that feeds on itself, a beautiful circle. Where there is spiritual growth, there will be spiritual discernment.

But discernment is not some kind of hypercriticism that makes you incapable of appreciating things and turns you into a bitter watchdog who does nothing but sniff out the mistakes of others. It is a holy call to discern what is pleasing to God and what is not (Rom 12:1-2). It gives you a redemptive freedom to delight in what is true and beautiful, while rejecting what is ugly and false. Where there is discernment there will be growth.

So how do we gain discernment?

In Ephesians 4, Paul explains to the church in Ephesus the connection between discernment and growth. He tells them that as Christians learn from godly teachers, we will “grow” in Christ and will be less and less like undiscerning children who are “tossed about by the waves and carried to and fro by every wind of teaching and by cunning and artifice.” of those who use deceitful tricks” (v 14). Instead, as our maturity and wisdom increase, so will our discernment. And as we do this, “we will grow until we are in all things like Him who is the head, that is, Christ” (v 15). Here it is again this beautiful circle that feeds on itself — growth motivates insight, which causes growth that motivates insight, which causes... you get the point. In Ephesians 4 we see this in action.

So, if discernment is necessary to grow spiritually, how do we obtain it? Ultimately, like everything else in our lives, God is the one who gives it to us (Dan 2:21). His Spirit works in our hearts and produces lasting change. But He also gives us the responsibility to seek and find discernment. In Ephesians 5:10 he tells us: “... check what pleases the Lord.” Here are two main ways we do this.

1. Observe and learn from the Word of God

God is the source of all that is right, true and worthy. He is the solid foundation of discernment, so what better place to look for it than in His Word? At the beginning of Proverbs 2 it says that if you receive, study and love the words of God, He will give you discernment. When we set our minds on the things of God, we immerse ourselves in what is perfectly right and, in the process, protect ourselves from deception (Mt 16:23).

God has written His truth in Scripture, and we have unlimited access to it. By studying it, we are able to use it as an objective standard to evaluate the teachings we encounter. If you want more discernment, read the Bible. If you want to grow, read the Bible.


If you want more discernment, read the Bible.
If you want to grow, read the Bible.


2. Ask God for discernment

The second way to obtain discernment is by praying. It may sound childish or cliché, but if it is God who gives us discernment, we should ask Him for it. If we want to grow, we need to ask for it. That's what Solomon did when he became king of Israel. God appeared to him in a dream and said, “Ask of me whatever you want” (1 Kings 3:5). It was an invitation without limits. Solomon responded with great burden and humility:

Now, Lord my God, you have made me king in place of my father David. I am but a boy, and I hardly know how to behave. Yet here I am, your servant in the midst of the people you have chosen, a people so numerous that it is impossible to count them. I pray that You give Your servant discernment to govern Your people and to distinguish between good and evil. Otherwise, who can govern this great people of Yours? (1Ki 3:7-9).

He was a new king. He could have asked for political power, victory in battles, popularity, fame or success. Instead of all that, he asked for the most valuable thing he knew: discernment. Follow Solomon's example and ask the Lord for discernment with humility and fervor. In James 1:5 we read: “If any of you lacks wisdom, ask God, and He will give it to you, for God gives generously to all and looks down on no one.” God is the source of truth, so if you want to know what is right, go to Him. Express your desire to obey Him through discernment, and ask Him to mature you in this area.

Discernment in practice

If you are a Christian, the gospel guarantees that you will grow. And if you are growing, the gospel guarantees that you will exercise discernment. But exercising discernment in the real world can be difficult. Although God's Word is infallible, man's teaching is not. And we don't just receive teaching from the pulpit. We find it in books, on screens, in schools, in music, in culture—basically, everywhere. Every day they are teaching us something, and our responsibility as followers of Jesus is to distinguish between truth and lies.


This article was adapted from a portion of the book This changes everything , published by Poiema Publicaciones . You can download a free sample by visiting this link .

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