These can be confusing times that we live in, but if we are people of God, we don’t have to live confused. God has given us His Spirit to help us discern and make wise decisions, even in the midst of confusion.
Here’s a few tips to silence the chaos and lean into wisdom:
1. Look for context
This comes down to perspective. If you see a picture of a woman slapping her child on the back, you might assume abuse, but if you look closer and see that the child is choking, you will call her a hero. We must look for the full picture.
This is especially important in a culture of tweets and posts. We need to pull back and get perspective. Where does this fit into the the full picture of the family/country/world/history right now? I like to ask myself, “Will this matter in 10 years?” Sometimes the answer is yes, but more often it’s no.
Sometimes to accomplish this, we have to be investigators. My husband and I have spent many years discipling young people (when we ourselves were still young people too!) Sometimes there was conflict, but there were always two sides. It’s important to hear both and dig around, try to get to the heart of what each person is saying and what is behind it.
2. Ask for discernment
We can ask God to give us His discernment. This is a gift that comes from Him. Discernment is not criticism. It is the ability to see past what can be seen. I suppose it ties in with perspective, but it’s more than just a human perspective. It’s God’s perspective.
Sometimes, in our human logic, we can call something very bad which is actually going to be used to be very good. We need to be spiritually minded, seeing with an eternal perspective, not just what’s in front of us. Discernment is given as we mature, as we are trained to see what is good and evil (Hebrews 5:14).
One of the Holy Spirit’s main jobs is to guide us into all truth. If we are willing to go there, He will take us there.
3. Is it peaceable?
In James 3:17, we read, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; than peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”
Wow! If that’s not a plumb line for wisdom, I don’t know what is. What if we all checked ourselves before we spoke to see if what we are going to say lines up with God’s description of what is actually wise. True wisdom doesn’t take offense.If it's not peaceable and gentle, then it's not true Wisdom. #wisdomwednesday Click To Tweet
If it’s not being said with peace, then it’s not coming from His Spirit. This doesn’t mean that there’s not truth to some of the words being said, but true wisdom does not come with a lot of hype, pressure, bells and whistles, and red signs marked “clearance.” It is not there to draw attention to itself and it’s objective is not just to make its point clear, so sometimes it can be hard to hear it.
If you want to know if something is coming from pure intentions, look for peace. God doesn’t leave home without it.
4. Look for fruit
Jesus said that we will know a tree by its fruit. We can know people by their actions, not just by what the say.
It might sound like a good idea, but have others tried it before? If so, how did that end up for them? Wisdom is known by her fruit.
Jumping out of the barn loft with paper wings on sounds like a legit idea when you are 5, but if you live to see 6, you will have learned that gravity is important.
When considering self-help ideas, politics, or life-changing memes, look at the fruit of that person’s life. If a person has sunk the last 10 start-ups he’s owned, he’s probably not the best source to go to for small business help. Not everyone is an expert. Look for experience and see if their lives match what they are saying. No one is perfect, but there should be more ripe fruit than rotten.
5. Keep knocking
Wisdom shows herself to those who pursue her.
It would not be loving of God to give us wisdom unless we were able to be responsible with what He’s endowed. Otherwise, we would buckle under the weight. God gives us wisdom as we seek Him and faithfully show that we truly want it.
It would not be wise or loving for me to entrust my new laptop to my 3-year-old to use as she pleases. (Maybe some 3-year-olds, but not this one!) As she matures, she will be ready. So it is with God. If we want wisdom, want to know His secrets, we must seek out His ways, and keep seeking until we find them. That is called faith (or faithfulness).
6. Start small
Begin by asking God for wisdom in the little decisions. How should I respond to this co-worker? How should I best handle my child’s tantrum? What is the best time to bring this issue up to my husband (still working on this!)? Should I approach my friend about this concern or wait and pray? Should I respond to a political rant on Facebook or let it go?
If I am fired up about something, that is not the best time for me to be voicing my opinion. I will betray myself. Proverbs 29:11 says that only a fool gives full vent to his anger, and Proverbs 17:28 says that even a fool appears wise if she keeps her mouth shut. Often, I need to go hash it out with God first. Usually that solves it. If I’m still perplexed, I’ll talk to a trusted (and wise) friend, and then go back to God with it.
By starting with small decisions that have minimal effect on my overall life (or the lives of others), I give myself grace to try to hear the Holy Spirit and move in His play-by-play wisdom. Just because I’ve seen a situation like this before doesn’t mean that I should assume the end result will be the same. God lives in real-time and can counsel us in that as well.
7. Fear God
“Where is the person who fears the Lord? God will teach him how to choose the best…Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence Him. With them alone He shares the secrets of His promises.” Psalm 25.
Fearing God means that we respect Him and His ways. Like I mentioned before, it’s unloving to entrust that which is precious to those that could care less about us and our hearts. God is the same. If we really want to know Him, to know His ways, and to gain wisdom, we must respect Him. If we only ask for wisdom in the crises, we will not grow very much.
It takes a lot of time to know a person. So it is with God. It’s the daily walking with Him, asking for His input (and then obeying it!) that develops trust. God is not just looking for people to obey Him because He wants a whole bunch of minions. (If He did, He could have made us that way in the first place!) Obedience is a sign of love. It’s the fruit of love. If I care about someone, I will try to please him. If I know my friend doesn’t like seafood, I will not suggest we eat tuna and only tuna every time we go out together.God doesn't want minions. Obedience is simply the fruit of love. #Love Click To Tweet
There is no substitute for time spent with Him. You can’t download it on iTunes or stock up on it at Walmart. Each person must seek Him for his or herself because each person has a unique relationship with the Creator and a special place in His heart that no one else can fill.
May we all grow in wisdom and be people of trustworthy counsel in these days.
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