Pre-Summit Bible Study

Week 2: Discerning

Read Philippians 1:7-11

I have good reason to think this way about all of you because I keep you in my heart. You are all my partners in God’s grace, both during my time in prison and in the defense and support of the gospel. God is my witness that I feel affection for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. This is my prayer: that your love might become even more and more rich with knowledge and all kinds of insight. I pray this so that you will be able to decide what really matters and so you will be sincere and blameless on the day of Christ. I pray that you will then be filled with the fruit of righteousness, which comes from Jesus Christ, in order to give glory and praise to God.

Discuss

Paul and Timothy pray for the love between the people in Philippi to become full of insight and knowledge so they can “decide what really matters.” Another way to say this is to say, “so that you may be discerning.” Discernment is good judgment or clear direction. Paul and Timothy want the people to possess an ability to make decisions based on God’s best plan for the whole of God’s people, and to have sound, wise judgment in times when others fail to make good decisions.

1. Good judgment and clear decision-making abilities are qualities Paul and Timothy pray the church in Philippi will possess. As a Christian do your friends (Christian or not) look to you as one that makes wise decisions? Are you a person with the ability to think about what is God’s best for other people? To whom do you look as a discerning, wise decision-maker?

2. We live in a day when others suggest, “Go with your gut,” or “Whatever works for you!” Paul and Timothy suggest something different. They suggest that God’s best is not whatever feels good to you or me. God’s best is rooted in God’s incomprehensible knowledge and love. How does this make sense when you consider the character of God? How is it different from attitudes we hear expressed around us? Or, how is it different from your own attitude?

3. Based on this passage, think about a decision you need to make in your life. What are characteristics of a bad decision? What are decisions that may seem harmless, but may actually be harmful? Why does good judgment or clear direction matter to God?

Pray

God, sometimes it makes me uncomfortable for me to think about your best for my life because often I think I know what is best for me. Forgive me for putting my desires ahead of your desires. Help me to trust you and give me strength to surrender my plans to you in order that I might be a Christian of sound judgment, wisdom, and discernment. Amen.

Act

On a piece of paper, create three columns. In the first column, make a list of decisions you need to make now or in the future (i.e. dating a person, applying for a job, attending college, playing a sport, etc.). At the top of the second column, write “My Desires.” In this section, write your desires and wants related to this decision. Above the third column, write the words, “God’s Best.” If you know God’s best for the decision write it down. If you don’t know God’s best for you, leave it blank and commit to pray daily for God to reveal what is best to you. Pray God gives you clear direction and good judgment. Pray for your will to align with God’s will. If you need help discerning God’s best, ask God to send others with wisdom your way to help you know God’s best. Consider asking the adult you talked with last week to help you discern the wisest decision.