“If any of you lacks wisdom …” (James 1:5a NIV)

What do you mean if? Shouldn’t this verse say when? Because the way my life generally shakes down, I seem to be lacking wisdom quite often! And like today’s picture, the more I think about all the options and opinions, the more confused I can get.

This week’s character quality is discernment. Understanding the deeper reasons why things happen. The ability to judge well. To grasp and comprehend what is obscure. Keen insight and good judgment. At the heart, discernment is deciding between truth and error, right and wrong.

Proverbs tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.” (Proverbs 3:5-7 NIV) There’s a clear warning that my earthly wisdom and understanding aren’t going to be enough when it comes to knowing what path to take. So, where do I get the right kind of wisdom to make good decisions?

James wrote about facing trials of many kinds that would test our faith and grow our character. In those situations, James wrote that “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. “ (James 1:5 NIV) If (when) I need wisdom about a situation, I can ask God without fear of being ridiculed or stumbling around in the dark. He will give me wisdom.

There is the story of an ancient king who was told by God to ask for anything he wanted. Solomon was essentially offered a blank check. How did he respond? “So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1 Kings 3:9 NIV) God replied, “I will give you a wise and discerning heart” (1 Kings 3:12 NIV) in addition to the many blessings Solomon did not ask for.

Not long afterward, Solomon had to judge the case of two prostitutes who both claimed a baby was theirs. Solomon ordered the child cut in half and split between the two of them … and their resulting reactions revealed the truth. And all Israel “held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.” (1 Kings 9:28b NIV)

While I certainly hope I never have to decide a custody case, I would echo Solomon’s request for a discerning heart as a parent, wife, employee, writer, citizen, and child of God. Lord, please help me to understand the deeper reasons why things happen. Help me to see clearly which path to take.

What about you? Do you ever lacked wisdom? Have there been times where God gave you discernment in a situation?

Character Matters – Discernment
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