Discernment, an eye for what's good, is part of the believer's transformation process.

Discernment: Pursuing the Good, the True, and the Beautiful

Something inside me freezes when I hear the word discernment. Whether I’m making a major purchase, giving advice to a friend, or standing in a voting booth feeling as if I’m taking a test I haven’t studied for, discernment is the quality that’s lacking and the thing I long for. We want good things for ourselves and for those we love, but therein is the rub:  Do I know what is good? Will I recognize it when I see it? Am I qualified to discern what is good, what is true, and what is beautiful in a world skewed and often unsafe?

Hannah Anderson longed to recover the lost art of discernment as well. In her family life and her career, she craved clarity:

My actions and choices were shaped more by the brokenness around me than the reality of God’s goodness and nearness. When faced with a decision, I played defense:  What will keep me safe? What are other people expecting me to do? What will happen if I make a mistake?”  (12)

All That’s Good is the record of Anderson’s discovery that discernment, an eye for what’s good, is part of the believer’s transformation process Paul describes in Romans 12:2 in which the renewed mind “discerns what is [God’s] good, pleasing, and perfect will.”

This is the path away from weather vane living–the dreadful swinging in the wind that is both exhausting and embarrassing. Let me point out three aspects of this book’s solid truth telling, but rest assured that there is no short cut to discernment. Like any learned behavior or skill, discerning the good is a practice that comes with, well… practice!

Discernment is Inseparable from Virtue

The Apostle Paul was kind enough to provide a written list describing God’s vision of virtue:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Focused on God’s character–not with a microscope and a probe, but with a telescope that brings into focus God’s vast goodness–we become like what we behold.

Contemporary Culture Undermines Discernment

Research is my default, so when I’ve got a question, the facts pile high in my head. How enlightening in this digital age of Google to affirm the difference between information and knowledge, between data and wisdom. My skill in discernment is more about who I am than what I know. All the image management and groupthink social media fuels and fosters actually get in the way of my ability to discern what is good and to navigate the real world with confidence and hope.

We Become Discerning in Community

Even the Apostle Paul needed re-direction at times. God’s sovereignty is not thwarted for one minute by my wrong choices, and often he will use the voice of a brother or sister in Christ to offer the redirection that is needed. It is in the life-on-life of sharing our opinions and finding that we have reached different conclusions–but responding in love anyway–that we discover discernment as a generosity of spirit, a quality that allows for sacrifice and unity “because we are in relationship with each another, not in order to stay in relationship with each other.” (179)

As individuals and as a body, we are invited to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” As we behold what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable, and as we strive to become more fully aware of the difference between what is good and what is better, we are embarking upon the transformation process that leads to discernment and finding that it’s not a lost art after all.

Many thanks to Moody Publishers for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

Grateful for all that’s good,

Michele Morin

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase All That’s Good: Recovering the Lost Art of Discernment, simply click on the title within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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46 thoughts on “Discernment: Pursuing the Good, the True, and the Beautiful”

  1. Michele,
    I feel like, as I’ve gotten older, that perhaps I’ve gotten a tad wiser?? When asked Why? I would have to say that discernment comes from MANY years of meditating on God’s Holy Word. Some verses I’ve read hundreds of times and each time they hold different nuances of truth. I do believe, as well, that iron sharpens iron and so being in community with other believers adds to our ability to discern.
    Bev xx


  2. Discernment can feel and sound so complicated, like it’s some higher level of spiritual living. But God wants each of us to have discernment. I love how approachable Anderson makes this concept!


  3. Discernment is something that I hope I am better at as I get older. I know that when I look to God in the process I make better choices. I’m glad to know it is not a lost art.


  4. Discernment is personal. You may feel uncomfortable around someone and I don’t. You may be in danger and I’m safe. Purchases: I buy my eyeglasses locally knowing I can get them for a fraction of the cost online. But my children grew up with the children of the 3 families this office supports. Advice: A Bible verse. I google a phrase to get the reference. Voting: I get a copy of the ballot to google those I don’t know and ask my family about local people. Each decision is personal. What’s good for me may not be good for you.


    1. Absolutely true, and that’s the beauty of living in Truth seasoned with Grace. My favorite example of this is biblical: Ezra traveled from Babylon to Jerusalem and when the king offered him a military escort for protection, he refused that the glory of God might be put on display. Nehemiah made the same trip and received the same offer and accepted–that the glory of God might be put on display.
      We set up black and white answers to our own peril.


  5. I have been praying for discernment on a daily basis, because I need it daily, since my children were young. This looks like a book I would enjoy reading. Wonderful review and thank you for sharing about this one!


  6. Discernment is definitely a virtue and a skill greatly needed. In big things and on small things. We’re currently deciding on whether or not to buy a new kitchen table, a relatively tiny decision in the grand scope of life. But even in that, I pray for discernment to not waste money frivolously. Thanks for sharing about this book, Michele!


  7. I’ve seen this book but haven’t gotten it–I have another of hers about humility that I haven’t read yet.

    This is such an important topic, but one that’s not often talked or taught or written about.


  8. Oh, I love that last quote (from p. 179) you shared about cultivating a generosity of spirit in our relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ–“a quality that allows for sacrifice and unity ‘because we are in relationship with each another, not in order to stay in relationship with each other.’” AMEN to that. We will never agree on everything with every believer. But we can still love one another just the same!


  9. I love the topic of discernment. It was one of the first things I noticed God had planted in me when I began my walk with Him. I like to think of it as wisdom but no…its discernment. I’m not that wise 🙂
    Thank you for this wonderful post and thank you for linking up @worthbeyondrubies


  10. This sounds like a book I need to read. I have been wanting to learn more about discernment and to continue to grow in being discerning. I get bogged down with my own thoughts and ideas about things and then miss what the Lord is showing me or teaching me. Thanks for sharing this!


  11. I consider myself discerning. Maybe it comes with age? I believe sometimes we stand knocking at a door that is already, open out of fear – faith would walk in and discern the environment. SS


  12. Like you, I like to research things. I also tend to think through all of the pros and cons of a given choice. The difficulty with this is that the right course of action doesn’t always “make sense.” This is where faith comes in! This sounds like a book I’d benefit from.


  13. My husband totally has the spirit of discernment. He has said things about people after meeting them for 5 minutes that inevitably, comes true. I have come to just trust his judgement in so much.


  14. What did we ever do before Google? I am a researcher too. Discernment is something I need to think about. We have so many more choices today than ever before. It does cloud the mind sometimes. I loved this sentence: “Focused on God’s character–not with a microscope and a probe, but with a telescope that brings into focus God’s vast goodness–we become like what we behold.” So true and so good!


  15. Thank you for making me think today, deeper than usual 🙂 Who am I to determine what is good? I often think I know, but do I really. Thank you for linking this up today.


  16. I feel like discernment definitely comes with learning to truly listen to the Lord… letting the Holy Spirit guide and teach me everyday and in every thing.
    I know that my own sense of judgement and discernment is faulty at best… man can so easily be swayed by the thoughts and opinions of others… but the Lord is perfect and all-knowing and will guide us into all truth 🙂


  17. When I first started reading I wasn’t sure if discernment was showing in my life. Having read your post I can say that discernment is always there in the background driving me to the decisions I make. Visiting from #bloggerspitstop


  18. I’ve never really thought about discernment in this way before. I’ve always associated it with discerning spiritual truths. But this book sounds fascinating. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.


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