Discerning Thirty-Six-Year-Olds

Posted on May 2, 2012 · Posted in Wisdom

You are thirty-six. Your life is about half over, based on average human lifespans. If you are a singer, you might be just entering your prime. If you are an athlete, your prime is probably a fading memory. If you are in the business world you may be starting over, riding the wave, or somewhere in the middle. If you are a parent, you may be in despair, or you may be experiencing the joy of seeing your children follow Christ. But no matter what your situation, there is still one quality that you must have in increasing measure: discernment! Recall this simple definition:

Discernment is seeing the difference between good and bad – or good and best – so I know what to do to please God.

Discernment is a wisdom skill. Skills, by nature, are designed to be practiced. Honing the skill of discernment is a life-long endeavor, and one element of discernment is to learn to ask questions—specifically, questions that help reveal what is good by God’s standard, not what is good in your   opinion. Guard your heart, asking what God says is good—what will please Him, before you ask what is good for you. Proverbs 4:23 says:

Above all else, guard your heart,

For everything you do flows from it.

At thirty-six, are you guarding your heart, or are you indulging it? How much conscious thought do you give to pursuing what is good, what pleases God, in your life? Have you become despondent at your repeated failures? Or, even worse, have you become complacent with your relative goodness (as you compare yourself to other people)?

God has good things ahead for you, but pursuing those good things takes the skill of a discerning heart—a heart that faithfully and lovingly asks what is the best way to please God in every situation. Proverbs says you heart is what matters. Your behavior is important, but your behavior always comes from your heart—so start with your heart!

If this is what is good for you, it is also good for your children. You may think you have to have the mind of Solomon to practice wise discernment. In reality, you just need the courage to ask one vital question: is this decision I am considering a good thing for God? Some decisions are more complicated than others. Some take more time to sort out. But if you will faithfully ask, “Is this a good thing for God, his honor, and his reputation?” you will grow to be a person of discernment!

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.