Bible Question:

How does a Christian acquire discernment, besides asking God for it?

Bible Answer:

Discernment is the ability to perceive and see, or to find out something. It is insight that is provided by God. The Hebrew word for discernment, bina, is also translated as understanding and consideration.

What Is The Benefit of Discernment?

The greatest Old Testament example of a person wanting discernment was King Solomon. He asked God for understanding in order to discern between good and evil.

So give Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Thine? 1 Kings 3:9 (NASB)

God answered his prayer and blessed him with more – wealth.

And God said to him, “Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.” 1 Kings 3:11-12 (NASB)

Discernment is a gift that God gives.

How To Obtain Discernment – Ask God 

The ultimate and only way to obtain discernment is to ask God! That is what the Psalmist did. He asked God for discernment.

Teach me good discernment and knowledge, for I believe in Thy commandments. Psalms 119:66 (NASB)

In the book of James we are told that we can ask God for wisdom.

But if any of you  lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and  without reproach, and  it will be given to him. James 1:5  (NASB)

This reveals that we can ask God for discernment and wisdom, and we could add understanding and knowledge. God is the source. Therefore, ask God for discernment!

How To Obtain Discernment – Study God’s Word

Second, discernment is gained by pursuing it with passion. That is the message of Proverbs 2:3-5.

For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will discern the fear of the LORD
And discover the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:3-5 (NASB)

Have you ever searched and searched for something valuable? Years ago, I did just that. One day, I had lost my car keys and so I searched and searched for them. I became extremely frustrated and tired because I would not give up my search for them. Finally, my wife helped me find them. She always seems to be able to find them when I cannot. That is the picture of how we are to search and to seek for discernment by asking God through the study of God’s Word – as if it were extremely valuable. Then you will find discernment, and it will lead you to an awesome relationship with God. You will begin to highly respect and honor God, and you will start learning more and more about Him. You will find that God is all you really care about.

How To Obtain Discernment – Avoid the Foolish

Third, scripture tells us that we can obtain discernment by avoiding those who are fools because we are greatly influenced by those around us. Wisdom, understanding, and discernment do not come by spending time with those who are not wise themselves. There is a divine principle to be remembered. We must spend time with someone who has the qualities your desire. The following passages reveal this wise principle.

He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 13:20 (NASB)

Leave the presence of a fool, or you will not discern words of knowledge.  Proverbs 14:7 (NASB)

Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NASB)


Wisdom, understanding, and discernment come from God. Therefore, ask God for discernment and seriously study the Bible. The book of Proverbs is filled with all of the above. Third, avoid those who do not have discernment. How do we know whom to avoid? How do we know who are the fools in our life? Some are obvious and others are not. Ultimately, none of us are really all wise. None of us really have all understanding. None of us have great discernment, but God does! We have more to learn.

For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright . . . Then you will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course. Proverbs 2:6-9 (NASB)