HOW DO WE DISCERN RESISTANCE?
It’s inevitable. Pursuing the passions and visions God gives us will lead to opposition. Once we identify a problem and seek to implement a solution, we’re going to face opposition, just like Nehemiah did. So, what can we learn from the resistance we experience?
Opposition isn’t always bad or good and its presence or absence doesn’t ensure we’re on the right or the wrong path. So, we need to discern our opposition and understand where God is leading us. We shouldn’t immediately ignore the nay-sayers. They might be telling us something important—something God wants us to hear.
Proverbs 19:2 warns, “Desire without knowledge is not good—how much more will hasty feet miss the way!” Inspired by that proverb, a wise friend once told me, “Zeal without knowledge will only lead you to the wrong place more quickly.” Opposition could be a sign from the Lord telling you that your timing is wrong, your method is misguided, or that your motives need correction.
So, what tools can we use to help us discern how to move forward?
1 // Wisdom
Share with a Christian friend or mentor where you think God is leading you and what opposition you’re facing. It can be helpful to receive advice and guidance from a person who might have experienced a similar situation in the past. A person outside of the situation can also else can help you discern the motives of your opposition and help you see your own blind spots in the situation.
2 // God’s Word
What you don’t want to do is choose a single verse to decide your future. You might end up reading Luke 19:10 which says, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy.” That likely isn’t a sign from God that your next step is to stomp on snakes or scorpions.
In contrast, learning the principles God teaches in the Bible can help you better discern your opposition. Do they oppose you because you’re misrepresenting the character of God through your actions? Or, do they dislike what you’re doing because it neglects some of God’s priorities? As we learn who God is from the Bible, we can better understand where he is leading us and how he wants us to get there.
3 // Humility
It takes time, patience, and a whole lot of humility to listen to people who disagree with you. We need humility to know and acknowledge that we could be wrong, that there might be something we’re not seeing, or that we’re misinterpreting God’s guidance. James, in James 3:17, says that the wisdom that comes from God is “open to reason.” A wise person listens with humility, especially to those who disagree.
Sometimes we will find that the opposition we face is unjustified in its dissension. Even Jesus encountered resistance from his own disciples as he made his way to the cross (Matthew 16:22-23). However, we can faithfully push through opposition by trusting in God’s person, his promises, and his provision.