I Know Some Servants … with the Spiritual Gift of Discernment

The Spiritual Gift of Discernment Defined

to clearly distinguish truth from error by judging whether the behavior or teaching is from God, Satan, human error, or human power

Servant #1:  Church doctrine mattered to her.  She was on a committee to develop doctrinal statement and was quick to see issues in wording that others didn’t pick up on.  What might have been termed nitpicking resulted in an accurate representation of truth.

Servant #2:  When people with needs would come to the church, she was quick to spot a scam, seeing through lies and manipulation.  What might have been termed skepticism ended up being true.

Servant #3:  As a pastor he frequently counseled members in the church with deep-rooted issues.  Not long after hearing their life stories he was able to pinpoint lies they were believing that caused them to react certain ways.  He would help them understand when some of what they were experiencing was a spiritual attack from the Enemy.  What might have be termed directness got to the core of the issues and helped people when they accepted the truth.

People with the gift of discernment are often quick to see things that others don’t see or don’t see right away.  They can therefore be misunderstood.

Lessons to be learned:

When you identify someone in your midst with the spiritual gift of discernment, pay careful attention to their perceptions. Don’t be too quick to write off what they are saying because you don’t understand or agree. 

If you have the gift of discernment, pay close attention to how you share your perceptions with others.  Though you are usually right, don’t become arrogant and obnoxious about it.  Remember to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).  Seek to emulate Jesus who was full of both grace and truth  (Jn. 1:14).

18 Replies to “I Know Some Servants … with the Spiritual Gift of Discernment”

  1. I really love this website! It helps me to know what my gifts are. I never knew there ever was a website like this one. How long has this website been in existence? This will help me to be able to use my gifts better. Thank you so much! GOD BLESS YOU! LOVE LEONARD!

    • Praise God, Leonard. The ultimate goal is not simply to know your gifts but, as you wrote, to use them.

      Ministry Tools Resource Center was established in 1999 as a primarily online ministry. Of course, the site was much smaller then. God has brought continued growth in content and visitors to the site through the years. I’m glad you are one of those visitors and pray you continue to visit the site.

  2. I just realized my gift was discernment. As a young person I was always able to ‘see’ through people, and most of the time I was right. Most people thought I was weird, but since becoming a Christian I now know that this is a gift. But it is also troublesome at times. I can see the true motives of people and many times know the outcome of situations. How can I use it for the good of the body of Christ? Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth.

    • You are right, Ursa, that sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth. Yet, as Jesus said, the truth is what sets us free (Jn. 8:32). I think it gets down to the when, where, how, and why of it that will determine using it for the good of the body.

      WHEN: It’s easy to just blurt out what people need to hear but sometimes we must wait for people’s readiness to hear. I would encourage you to pray for God’s guidance on the right timing.

      WHERE: This gets into respecting people’s dignity. Just as there is a time, so there is a place. In most situations, it is best to speak to the person privately rather than publicly. Rarely should you make it a public matter. By public, I mean in front of even one other person, not just a group.

      HOW: I have seen time and time again people with the right message approach it in the wrong way. Needless to say, it wasn’t accepted too well. We need to always speak truth in love (Eph. 4:15). We must be gentle and meek as 2 Timothy 2:24-26 says, “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” And we must go into it with true humility, realizing that it is only by God’s grace that we aren’t in the same situation. And, it is by God’s grace that you have the gift you do to be able to see the truth of the situation.

      WHY: How important it is to have the right heart attitude, saying what you say because you truly love the person and truly want their best.

      Even if the when, how, where, and why are in place, realize that you still probably won’t have a 100% track record in people accepting what you say. Look at Jesus’ life on earth. Though God Himself in the flesh, full of both grace and truth, not everybody wanted to hear what He said, nor accept it.

      Let me also say, that there are other ways to use this gift besides confronting people who need to hear the truth. The gift of discernment is also needed in assessment/evaluation of the quality and maturity of an established ministry, doctrinal evaluation, prayer seeking, spiritual warfare, interviewing, or needs assessment. Sometimes it becomes useful when on a church board or steering committee or as a consultant to the board/leaders about particular issues.

    • I think the comments by MinTools is right on as far as how to use it. I am concerned, though, about the statement that you can see true motives of people. You need to be very careful about making judgments about their motives. You may see that something is not as they say it is, but projecting motives on people is a dangerous move to make. You can make observations about what you see, but their motives usually are something that can only be discovered through intense, and deep dialogue with that person, and through the help of the Holy Spirit. It is true that most people don’t want to hear the truth, but as someone with this spiritual gift, you must be willing to accept the consequences, realizing that the battle is not against flesh and blood, but against spirits and principalities. You have to graciously accept and understand their resentment and rejection because, in reality, they are not rejecting you, they are rejecting Christ who sent you.

      • Thanks, David. Two verses about motives need to be considered that don’t need commentary:

        All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD. (Prov. 16:2)

        Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. (1 Cor. 4:5)

  3. It was very hard for me at first when my Lord gave me this gift. I was amazed and wanted to share it with not only my close family but friends also. It made me sad everytime I tried to explain my gift especially to a Christian. The Holy Spirit told me that while God communicates with all his childern but not all the same way as with me. He explained that it may infear with their jobs or maybe their famlies yet he did have other ways to convey His will unto them. Sometimes I call him (Holy Spirit) the bad news bear cause that’s all he seems to tell me sometimes about specific others (my brother) I tell him not to tell me anything else about him cause it hurts to know the truth and outcome for him. Yet I know the knowledge given to me is for a heads up on whatever situation it maybe to better allow me to help that person and do God’s Will. Ya’ll all pray for me cause there is much to be done. God bless you all.

    • Not everyone will want to hear your perceptions because if what you say is true, they might need to make changes. God will never give someone with the gift of discernment perceptions that contradict His Word. You should always be able to take people back to the Word, if not to specific commands, to principles in Scripture. If you take people to the Bible, it will be clearer that if people reject what you are saying, it is not you they are rejecting. We would be glad to pray for you in the use of your spiritual gift. The purpose of spiritual gifts is the effect they have on others, not us, so may He use you to His glory for the benefit of His people. Therein is the true joy in using our gifts.

  4. Hello, this information gave me a clearer picture of what I have been experiencing for most of my adult life. Sometimes I have heeded to what was being shown to me and sometimes I did not which led to less desirable results. To be honest sometimes I don’t know what to do with what is shown to me, which sometimes a situation is baffling to others the answer is very clear to me but I don’t speak up because I don’t know how the other person will take it. I have also seen things in dreams before they actually happened. I don’t attend church regularly, but I do read my bible and feel that I have a relationship with God.

    • I’m glad this post was helpful to you, Rita. Even when people do not have the gift of discernment, it is often difficult to say what needs to be said for fear of people’s reactions. It is really important that we seriously pray about speaking to the person. If you haven’t prayed about it, then it is best to keep quiet. A key principle given in Scripture is that we are to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). If you can’t say it in love, then it is best to keep quiet. Galatians 6:1 also speaks of how to confront people with the truth — “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” If you can’t do it with humility and gentleness, then it is best to keep quiet. If we are speaking truth to someone as a result of prayer with the right heart attitudes and in godly ways, then we need to trust the results to God. All of that is born out of a close personal relationship with God.

  5. I always thought I had this gift- but taking the test, it did not show up. How can I be sure?

    • Our online Spiritual Gifts Test assesses only the 7 gifts listed in Romans 12:6-8. The spiritual gift of discernment is listed in 1 Corinthians 12:10 so the online test will not help you identify that gift within you, Judy. Apart from taking a more inclusive test, perhaps it will help to look at the definition for the gift of discernment at the top of this post and the examples. Do these at all sound like you? People with the spiritual gift of discernment are often looked to for help in figuring out right from wrong. They are known for good spiritual judgment. They tend to be able to quickly spot a spiritual phony and want to protect the church from false teaching and error. Does that sound like you? If these characteristics seem to be within you in good measure, perhaps you have the gift of discernment. If not, perhaps you do not have that gift.

  6. This site has been such a blessing to me. I have prayed for the Lord to reveal to me what my spiritual gifts are. I know that He has led me to this source at this time in my walk and ministry. Oddly, I have always known that some of my experiences were not typical and that God was using me to encourage people, counsel, teach the Word, to give guidence on how to apply the Word to their daily lives, and to see things (i.e. motives and spirits) in the Spirit. My struggle was that I had not connected the characteristics to the actual gift (title). My spirit is overwhelmed right now reading the definitions, examples and the attributes of exhortation, discernment, teaching and prophecy. I have taken several spiritual gift assessments and they always confirm these same gifts. I am praying now that the Lord will continue to show me how He would have me use my gifts to edify the Kingdom of God.

    • I too praise God for leading you to the site and using it to help bring confirmation of what you have been experiencing. Being able to to identify our gifts helps us better know where to plug into ministry. Knowing our gifts help us know where to focus training for ministry in better using our gifts. While labeling our gifts is important, using them is what really matters. I will stop and pray that God does indeed continue to show you how He wants you to use your gifts to His glory.

      • Thank for agreeing with me in prayer. Confirmation is exactly what this site has provided. I can now solicit fruitful training to develop me as the Holy Spirit leads me. I am a minister in training under the leadership of my pastor. I will be completing my masters degree in adult education and training in the next few months, and I am currently researching a seminary and counseling/coaching certifications in the future. Preparing to put my gifts to use effectively. PRAISE GOD!

  7. There reaches a point when you can’t turn it off

    As a child I prayed to be aware. I would go to sleep and feel watched. I could not sleep until I read the Bible. It made me feel secure. So I wanted safety. I would pray each night for discernment so that I would know what evil was.

    It worked, but I do want to warn everyone. Spiritual warfare is very real. But the battle is not with people, it’s for people. If you ever feel overwhelmed, just pray for the strength to get through it.

    • Brandon, what you said about spiritual warfare is so true. As Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” We do need to keep perspective in the midst a such situations. And, yes, prayer is ever so important as we need to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Eph. 6:10). We dare not think we can go into spiritual battle in our own strength for Satan is “like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:4).

    • i will pray for u Brandon, you must also be fighting some heavy battles…may the lord be with you always and his angels surround you with their shinning light….