Try to imagine the look on Peter’s face when Jesus rebuked him. He must have gone from a beaming smile to a forlorn frown in a split second.
Did Peter love Jesus when he said, “You are the Christ” (Mark 8:29)? Yes! Did he love Jesus when he urged him to avoid the cross? Yes! Peter loved Jesus with his whole heart on both occasions, even though the first response came from God, and the second one didn’t.
If it was hard for the great St. Peter to recognize the difference between godly truth and ungodly temptation, what about us? Sure, there are times when it’s not hard to spot the influence of the devil. But what about those times when we feel we are being sincere and honest, but we’re still wrong?
The first thing we need to do is admit that we don’t always get it right. We’re going to make mistakes and hurt people, even when we have good intentions. There will even be times, humbling though they may be, when our good intentions end up serving devilish purposes. Praise God for his mercy and patience!
Second, we need to know that the Holy Spirit wants to teach us how to live. St. Paul tells us that no matter how inscrutable the wisdom of God may be, “we have the mind of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 2:16). This means we really can learn how to discern spiritual things.
Over time, Peter learned how to discern God’s voice. He learned how to sort through his intentions and be a clearer instrument of God’s grace. We can too. Just keep telling yourself, “I have the mind of Christ. I believe that the Holy Spirit is my guide.” With this little statement of faith, you can develop the gift of discernment.
“Lord, show me your ways so that I may discern your will.”