For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
From an early age he was fascinated with gemstones. Actually, what fascinated him was how lucrative the business of a jeweler could be. His family traveled in the right circles, and he was blessed enough to have landed an apprenticeship with one of the more noted jewelers in town. In those days that was how one learned a trade. He first learned how to care for the jewelry by cleaning and polishing, but slowly he moved to more critical tasks. Eventually, he was taught the meat of the business, which is proper appraisal and authentication. It was during this phase of his training that one thing became clear. Even after spending years with these gems, jewels and metals, he still could not tell the genuine from the counterfeit because he would not invest the time and effort necessary to gain that all-important skill. He was a jewel keeper but by no means a jeweler.
Discernment is a valuable spiritual muscle. Just like our physical muscles, we must exercise our discernment so that it grows strong and capable. When we first begin our journey of faith it is easy to be misled because we just do not know enough. It is not necessarily a matter of knowledge or wisdom, but we are not yet walking as one with the Spirit. I can recall some very specific people I have encountered in my faith journey who have seemed a little off to me for one reason or another. One of these people I encountered very early in my walk, but God allowed me to discern the evil in that man which was masquerading as truth. I could have ignored that feeling and absorbed what he had to say, or I could have paid heed to God’s warning and stood on guard around that man. I chose the latter, and that is the moment I believe God began to develop spiritual discernment in me.
Discernment is like the culmination of several spiritual disciplines. We take our knowledge of the word and our wisdom in applying it, and we add to that our sensitivity to God’s Spirit, and we mix with that our surrender to God’s leading and prompting. The more we work to increase our closeness to God, the more we are able to hear and see what He wants to reveal to us. Our senses are valuable only if we submit them to God’s use for the purposes of his kingdom, but we have to submit to that and put it in regular practice so that we can know the good from the bad. Discernment comes from our growing in spiritual alignment with God, which then provides access to his spiritual vision. As we move from milk to meat we can expect to grow in our sensitivity to the Spirit. Father, show us the ways in which we can become more aligned with your Spirit, walking in maturity of discernment.