Solomon urged his son to cry out for discernment and search for it as for hidden treasures.
To discern means "to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing be genuine or not)…to recognize as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy" (Thayer, 154). Jesus used this word of examining weather signs to explain discerning the time of the Messiah's presence (Lk. 12:56). He drove the point home by saying, "Yes, and why even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right?" (Lk. 12:57)
Solomon urged his son to "cry out for discernment," advising that if he would "seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures" that he would "understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God" (Prov. 2:3-5). The benefit of discernment is succinctly stated in Proverbs 15:21: "Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment, but a man of understanding walks uprightly." Without discernment we lack a necessary tool to make wise, godly choices for living righteously.
So, Christians are taught to be "finding out (discerning) what is acceptable to the Lord" while we "walk as children of light" and bear the "fruit of the Spirit" (Eph. 5:10, 8-9; Rom. 12:2). Here are some things requiring spiritual discernment to help us walk uprightly.
1) Discernment is needed to test all things. "Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil" (1 Thess. 5:21-22). Divine revelation, God's word, is the measuring stick by which to test the worthiness of "all we do in word or deed" (Col. 3:17).
2) Discernment is needed to approve excellent things. "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God" (Phil. 1:9-11). We need the ability to distinguish between behavior that advances righteousness and that which destroys it. Then, we must make the choice that pleases God, maintains our spiritual integrity and produces righteous fruit.
3) Discernment is needed to test the spirits that claim to be true and from God. "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 Jno. 4:1). One of the miraculous spiritual gifts was the "discerning of spirits" (1 Cor. 12:10). Now, we have the recorded teachings of the apostles to know truth from error (1 Jno. 4:6).
Let us mature in spiritual discernment by fearing of the Lord, knowing the will of God, and fervently seeking it and using it in all our decisions.
Joe R. Price