By Bro. Aaron Reisinger
Because everyone is different, we all have a different way of viewing things. Sometimes when we discuss things with others, they may say, “That’s your perspective.” But what is perspective, and what can the Bible teach us about perspective? Perspective very simply means: the way in which things are viewed; a way of regarding situations, facts, etc. and judging their relative importance; or one’s outlook, attitude, or way of looking at things; our frame of reference. We often hear sayings such as, “In the long run,” “can’t see the forest for the trees,” “stumble at a straw,” “trade off the orchard for an apple,” or one Christ used Himself, “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel”. These expressions validate the fact that different individuals view things differently, or have different perspectives. In the eighth chapter of the gospel record of Mark, we find one of the many miracles of our Lord as He heals a blind man at Bethsaida. From this brief account, we can learn much about having the right perspective. The first thing we see is a man who is blind. Often, physical blindness in the Bible is also representative of being unsaved or spiritually blind. Those who met Christ not only received their sight, but their salvation as well (John 9:35-41). Obviously, those who are blind, have no spiritual perspective at all. Jesus Himself called the Pharisees “blind leaders of the blind.” The apostle Paul also warned the Ephesians to, “be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the slight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” We that are saved, must be careful not to allow our perspective to be formed or influenced by those that are blind. We must strive to have a Christian world view. The Lord Jesus takes this blind man and leads him out of town where He touches him and then asks him what he sees. Interestingly enough, the man responds, “I see men as trees, walking.” Even though Christ had touched him, his vision was not yet what it needed to be. He was no longer blind, but he now had a blurred perspective. Unfortunately, the same is true for many Christians. We have met the Lord; He has touched our life, yet our vision or perspective still isn’t what it should be. Let’s consider a few examples from scripture of things that can blur our vision as a Christian.
We witness the blurring effects of discouragement in the life of Elijah. The great Old Testament servant of God has a great victory for the Lord on Mount Carmel, and in the next chapter he is so discouraged that he wishes for his life to be over. How dangerous it is when we begin to view things through the lens of discouragement. I once heard a former pastor of mine, who I love dearly, say, “discouraged people always overstate their problems.”
Another problem that tends to trouble our vision is disobedience. We must realize that no one who is in violation of God’s Word and commands can see clearly. Balaam makes this very clear, as it was a donkey’s vision that saved his life from destruction. The disobedient prophet could not even see the error of his way. We must be mindful to listen to those around us. If family and friends try to warn us of the error of our way, and we can’t see it, it might our vision is just be blurred because of our disobedience.
Worldliness definitely can blur our vision as Christians. In the book of Colossians, we find Demas a faithful companion of Luke and the apostle Paul. Later, Paul tells Timothy that “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” It is truly amazing that the apostle Paul, one of the greatest Christians who ever lived, lost a Christian friend to worldliness. We must as Christians keep a long term perspective and not sacrifice the eternal on the altar of the temporal.
In the small book of Ruth, we meet a woman who had lost her perspective due to bitterness. Naomi and her family had left their land to go down to the land of Moab. Those of us familiar with the story know while they were there, she buried a husband and two sons. When she did return home, she was greeted by those of her home town who asked, “is this Naomi?” She did not even want to be called by that name any more, but told them rather, “call me Mara,” which simply means “bitter.” Things in life will not always go our way or seem fair, but we must guard against allowing bitterness to affect our perspective.
Moses, the man God chose to lead His people for forty years, illustrates the problem of anger. God wanted to use Moses to show His people how He cares and provides for them. Unfortunately, Moses’ perspective was blurred by his anger due to the children of Israel’s murmuring. Instead of speaking to the rock, he smote it and therefore, lost the opportunity to bring God’s people into their land.
Everyone who has ever gone to Sunday school, is familiar with the story of Jonah. His disobedience, his misdirected boat trip, his being swallowed by a great fish, his repentance, and eventual obedience that led to the repentance of the Ninevites. Jonah was like many Christians who had his vision blurred by prejudice. He was unhappy that God extended mercy to the heathen people. Oftentimes, we tend to look down on others, forgetting that we were once sinners perhaps only having a different set of sins, and judge people unworthy of the gospel due to a prejudiced perspective.
Stress is something the medical community often warns of, knowing its detrimental effects on the body and mind; but it can greatly effect our perspective as well. In the book of Exodus, we see God’s great deliverance of His people from Egypt. They had been led out toward the Red Sea and were exactly where God wanted them, yet when they lifted up their eyes and saw the Egyptians pursuing them they lost sight of all that God had just done for them. Moses told them, “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” We, too, must not allow stressful situations to determine the way we view God and our circumstances.
King Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, illustrates to us how are perspective can be blurred by peer pressure. He essentially lost the united kingdom due to listening to the prideful, immature influences around him (whom God was using to accomplish His will). He ignored older, wiser counsel for those young men that were grown up with him. As Christians, we must be sure that those we allow to influence us are walking with the Lord and living according to His commands.
Many times, we do not keep the precious things of God dear to us like we should. This is evidenced in the life of Eli as, “his eyes began to wax dim.” He allowed the lamp of God to go out in the temple. His failing eyesight kept him from keeping the command of God that the lamp would always be burning. If we backslide away from God, we will fail to see the commands of God as a precious thing that requires our attention and devotion. The apostle Peter exhorts us in his second epistle to “add to your faith.” He then proceeds with a list of seven things that should not only be in us, but abounding in us. He warns that if we lack these things, we are “blind, and cannot see afar off.” Here we are warned of our perspective being blurred due to our stagnant Christianity. It is God’s desire for us to be growing and developing in our Christian life on a daily basis. There is no place to stop and rest. We must be growing and desiring more from our relationship with the Lord or we will grow stagnant and lose our perspective of the things of God.
We see in Mark that the Lord touches the man who had been blind again. Now, he was no longer blind, he no longer saw men as trees, but had beautiful vision and “saw every man clearly.” It should be our desire as Christians to get to the point in our life that we see all things clearly. God can bless us with type of perspective if we are willing to spend more time with Him. One touch gave him his vision back, but it was not perfect. Obviously, the more time we spend with Christ the more our perspective will be conformed to His. We do this by spending time in His Word as James exhorts us to not just look into God’s Word, but to continue therein. We must also be faithful to fast and pray to seek God’s face. We often run to others when looking for help or trying to deal with a situation when we first should pray and ask God to enlighten our perspective. We must be willing as well, as David was, to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness. David said, “My sin is ever before me.” Confession of sin will remove its blinding effects and give us a fresh renewed perspective of the things of God. Finally, we learn from the life of Daniel the power of pre-determined convictions. We should determine by the grace of God that there are some things that are fixed, firm, and non-negotiable in our Christian lives. We must not wait until we are in a bad situation, as Daniel and the Hebrew children were, to determine what our perspective will be. Godly, unchanging convictions will enable us to see clearly even in the difficult times. May we as Christians seek to have a godly perspective, and strive to see all things clearly.