Discernment is the ability to decipher what is true and false, what is good or bad, or what is helpful or not helpful. People who have discernment are those who seem to have a knack for quickly identifying the “heart of the problem.”
Only through knowing and applying the word of God through the power of the Holy Spirit will we be able to enhance our discernment:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:14)
In both of these passages there is a direct link between discernment and the word of God. So when it comes to relationship discernment, what we really need is the power of the Holy Spirit to help us apply God’s word to our relationship decisions. When you can make decisions in relationships that are in alignment with God’s word, then you will be discerning.
This is not an easy skill to develop. We must train ourselves and constantly come back to the Bible so God will sharpen our discernment. In this article, we will talk about 6 signs that you might lack relationship discernment.
- You Lack Relationship Discernment if You Justify Someone’s Poor Behavior By Assuming They Have a Good Motive
Most Christians know that it is a sin to judge the motives of others (1 Corinthians 4:4-5, Matthew 7:1). When we think of this sinful judgement, we often imagine the scenario where we might be assuming something bad is going on in the heart of another.
While judging the inner motives of others and assuming they are sinful is wrong, it is also unbiblical to judge someone’s inner motives positively. Many times people will justify the sins of others by assuming they know that their motives are pure. This is unbiblical for at least two reasons.
First off, a sinful behavior is a sinful behavior regardless of the motive. Second off, we are often incorrect in our judgement about people’s hearts, even when we are judging them positively by assuming that their motives are good.
The Bible says that people are unable to judge the hearts of others (1 Samuel 16:7). Period. If you think you can look into someone’s heart and see good, you are wrong. Only God can do that. Christians, therefore, are required to pay attention to people’s actions because that’s all we can truly assess.
If you want relationship discernment, you need to know what the word of God says and then judge people’s outward willingness to live their lives in accordance with God’s will. Yes, I said judge their outer lives. That is a biblical use of judgement (1 Corinthians 5:12-13, Matthew 7:5). Don’t overlook sin by assuming someone’s heart is in the right place.
- You Lack Relationship Discernment If You Ignore Someone’s Constant Self-Contradictions
Another sign that you lack relationship discernment is when you are unwilling to call people out on their constant self-contradictions. Now certainly all of us contradict ourselves at times. But if someone is a walking contradiction but you keep overlooking this red flag because you want this relationship to work so bad, this is not good.
When they say one thing and do another, when they say one thing today and another thing tomorrow, when they say one thing around this group of people and another thing around another group of people – these are red flags you cannot ignore. If you do ignore contradictions in someone’s life, it means you lack relationship discernment.
. . . until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” (Ephesians 4:13-14)
- You Lack Relationship Discernment If You Idolize or Demonize People
A discerning person is able to see the truth. That’s really what discernment is all about – the ability to see through the lies, facades, and misdirection. Those who lack relationship discernment usually see things in black or white lenses. They see everything in an oversimplified way.
Usually this means that they idolize or demonize people rather easily. Someone they like is either the most amazing person ever or they become the worst person ever. If you are someone who is quick to fall head over heels for someone but to then just as quickly despise them when they do something you don’t like, this could mean you lack relationship discernment.
If you had discernment, you would have a greater ability to see people as mature in some areas and immature in other areas. Someone might really be good with budgeting and saving money but they might be rather immature with earning money and working. To say this person is totally ready to be responsible in marriage or would be totally irresponsible in marriage would be an oversimplification of this person. Discernment will help you gauge people accurately in their journey on the road of sanctification.
You don’t have to label someone as a terrible Christian or the best Christian ever. If you are looking for perfection you will be single forever. If you don’t have standards, you will date low-caliber people. With discernment you will be able to gauge people’s Christian maturity much more accurately.
- You Lack Relationship Discernment If You Are Constantly Misreading Where You Stand with Other People
If you think people like you when they don’t, if you think they don’t like you when they actually do, if you are totally clueless that someone is sending you signals, or if you are totally clueless that someone is not receiving your signals – you lack relationship discernment.
When we are not mature in the Lord we often get so excited about relationships we start reading into things we shouldn’t look at. When you are rooted in Christ and his word, you will be more level headed. When your brain is not crowded with too much emotion and wishful thinking, then you will be better able to assess a relationship for what it really is.
- You Lack Relationship Discernment If You Think You Can Try the Same Thing with the Same Person and Get Different Results
Wisdom is when you have the ability to apply your knowledge. Some people can be very smart but they are unable to apply what they know to their lives. Therefore these people, although smart, would not be considered wise.
In much the same way, people often know that they should stop trying to work it out with someone that they continually have the same issues with, but they are unable to apply this knowledge. With discernment, you will be able to know what is a problem that can be worked through compared to a reoccurring problem that is not going away.
If you keep going back to your ex, if you are stuck in a toxic dating relationship because this person you are with keeps promising to change, or if you keep dating the same types of people which results in you getting hurt again and again, this is a sign you need to increase your level of relationship discernment.
- You Lack Relationship Discernment If Your Dating Boundaries Are Imbalanced
I’ve talked about Christian dating boundaries before, so I won’t go into great detail about the type of boundaries Christians should have, but when your discernment is off your boundaries will be imbalanced as well.
Healthy boundaries are when you let the right people in and keep the wrong people out. To do this you will need to have discernment. Boundaries are also about sharing enough without sharing too much too soon. Again, to have healthy emotional boundaries you will need discernment.
In summary, if you want relationship discernment, you must be a student of God’s word and learn to apply it right to your life, including during your season of Christian dating. Pray for discernment often, walk with God so you can learn to follow his leading in the moment, and learn from the experiences you go through.
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