Last week, I wrote a post that began looking at how we can grow in our ability to discern whether or not God is speaking to us. I suggested that it begins with stepping away from the noise — which you can read about here.
So let’s say we do that — we step away , listen and then it happens. We hear God speak. Or at least we think we do. “Was that God?”, we ask, or was it just one of the countless other voices vying for our attention?
There’s not a sure-fire way to answer these questions — a formula that can guarantee that we get it 100% right. But there are some ‘filters’ Christians have used throughout the centuries to weed out the other voices. Like a pair of noise-canceling headphones that negate the frequencies we don’t want to hear — these steps help separate the distracting noise from the voice that brings life.
Let’s start first with the filter of Scripture.
Consider the thing you think God is telling you to do and ask, “Does Scripture tell me to do it as well?” Sometimes the answer will be clear (God is saying: reach out to extend forgiveness to your sibling. The Scriptures agree that forgiveness is to be extended). Other times the connection will be more gray (which is why we have other filters). But start here. Start with the Scriptures.
Here’s an example: you’ve been praying about whether or not to take a new job. While you won’t find a verse in the Bible about you taking a job at ____ company, the Bible has plenty to say about all of the things that are affected by your decision. Here’s a few to consider. Faith: will this new job increase or decrease your relationship with God? Will it leave time for you to stay engaged with God personally and communally? These are questions we often don’t think about — but Jesus tells us they are the most important questions. Relationships: how will the people in your life be impacted by this decision? Will this new job mean you will rarely see your children — or you’ll have no time to invest in other relationships. If so, the Scriptures have something to say about this. What about your relationship with your spouse? Will it be bettered or worsened by the decision you make? Giftedness: will this new job allow you to use the gifts God has given you? Will moving to this new company provide opportunities for you to use your intellect, passions and skills more?
Of course, with this example (and with life in general), there is all kinds of nuance, but I hope you see the larger principle at play. When you believe you’ve heard God speak, use the filter of Scripture to help you discern. If what you’re hearing aligns with Scripture, then move on to the next filter – which is what I’ll write more about in the next few days.
Until then…keep listening.