It’s easy to lose perspective in a fallen world. Have you ever had a time when processing life became difficult? A time when you found it hard to keep a healthy and godly perspective?
There are many examples in Scripture of godly people who lost perspective about God and life. Servants of God like Job (Job 3:10-13,16); Moses (Numbers 11:13-15); Elijah (I Kings 19:1-4), and Jonah (Jonah 4:1-10), all lost perspective so badly that they wanted to die.
Perspective (or how we choose to see things) can make a big difference in the quality of life. We can’t always choose our circumstances but we can usually choose our perspective toward them.
Some life-controlling perspectives
Maybe you’re discouraged. Life has been hard and you’re having trouble seeing through your difficulties. Discouragement, at a deeper level, is a loss of perspective.
Do you expect the worse to happen? Do you tend to see the dark side of things? Perhaps you have allowed setbacks or disappointments to make you negative, cynical and sarcastic. You’re looking at life through the lens of pessimism but you feel like you’re being realistic.
Are resentment and anger your primary lens for life? Perhaps you do a slow burn under an outwardly pleasant veneer. Anger can erupt at any time and rule your life. Is anger an occasional disruption or the way you process life?
Have you become complacent? Perhaps you’ve stop caring because you feel that caring doesn’t help and often leads to hurt. Maybe you’ve drifted from God and you no longer take spiritual matters seriously.
Are you all about you? Is life about how you feel, what you want — you, you, you? Does it always have to be your way and about you?
All of these involve perspectives — ways of seeing things or construing life. What is your general outlook on life? Does you feel like your attitude is caught in a bad flight pattern? If you’re stuck in one of the perspectives above, you might need some counseling to help you move forward (some perspective sessions). And please remember that your perspective not only affects you. All of those who must relate with you or who are under your influence are affected by your perspective.
How to keep a good and godly perspective
My recommendation for maintaining a good and godly perspective is as simple as it is profound. And it might change the way you approach the Bible and thus change your whole outlook on life in a way that conforms to God’s will. We simply must recognize that all Scripture was given for perspective formation. Consider what the Apostle Paul taught about the origin and role of Scripture:
II Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to:
- teach us what is true and
- to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.
- It corrects us when we are wrong and
- teaches us to do what is right.
God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” (NLT)
God’s method for changing you is that you “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
Ephesians 4:23 describes it as being “made new in the attitude of your minds.” God is committed to changing your outlook, attitude or perspective! (cf. Philippians 2:3-5).
Romans 14:13 specifically challenges us regarding this:
“Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about (προνοιαν) how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
The italicized words in english come from a greek term which means “a pro-visionary way of thinking.”
Another translation says, “make no provision for the flesh” (NASB). Another says, “don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires” (NLT)
To overcome sinful attitudes, perspectives and emotions, one must see things differently. One must “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”
How does an appropriation of Christ to one’s life (clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ) offer a different pro-visionary thinking?
How does it provide a gospel-based outlook that counter-veils the wrong way of thinking?
Two Provisions from God
Perspective is often closely associated with personality or temperament. Transformation in this area doesn’t mean that we all become the same personality type or temperament, but that we all yield our personalities and temperaments to the transforming influences of two divine provisions:
- The Spirit inspired Word – all Scripture.
- The Spirit indwell community - the reinforcement of godly perspective through connection with our local Church.
Notice that the Holy Spirit is the agent of spiritual transformation (see, II Corinthians 3:18) and His two primary instruments are the Word (Scripture) and the Church — the community of believers (see, Hebrews 3:12-13; 10:24-25).
We believe that Scripture is God’s revelation of Himself and His ways of dealing with His creation. Apart from it, we’re reduced to subjective human opinion and mere speculation about God, life, suffering, death and eternity.
Without God’s revelation of himself, we would have nothing that offers universal authority transcending human culture and opinion. We would have many human stories but no original story to shape our perspective. The Bible provides this for us!
Of course, the Bible was not originally written to us – but it was all written for us. And it presents God’s dealings through different times of history — which means we do not apply all of it the same way. We must “rightly handle it” (II Timothy 2:15).
So when reading the Bible, some things relate specifically to the original recipients (and seem foreign and strange to us) —-but from the text emerges truth that transcend time and culture! (Examples: II Corinthians 1:3-5, 8-9; 4:16-18; 12:7-10; James 1:1-5).
When we enter the Bible, we should see it as a “perspective formation session with God.” Your personal devotions offer a time to get perspective or to maintain godly perspective. Again, all scripture is given for perspective formation.
Three unique perspectives What the Bible offers is different from positive thinking books or other material because it confronts us with:
- Vertical truths for the horizontal issues of life
- Eternal truths for the temporal circumstances of life
- God-centered truths for the self-centered default mode of life.
The Bible also answers really important questions about origin, meaning, morality and destiny.
Remember that behind actions, emotions, and attitudes are ways of thinking (perspectives) that fortify the actions, emotions, and attitudes.
Why do I do this? (you’re struggling with habits and actions).
Why do I feel this way? (you’re struggling with emotions).
What we need is counter-veiling ways of thinking (perspectives) to confront ways of thinking that hold us in deceitful and destructive ways of life. This is the role the Bible fulfills.
Loss of perspective must be challenged daily by daily perspective forming sessions with God.
Don’t try this alone
We cannot do this alone. God designed that we flourish in community not in isolation. We must allow others to speak into our lives to reinforce vertical, eternal, God-centered perspectives.
The Church is God’s ordained place for this to happen. When we lose perspective, we’re tempted to travel in the company of those who share our outlook. “Misery likes company.” To maintain good and godly perspective, we need to travel with people who reinforce it (see: Hebrews 10:24).
Audio clip: Heart, mind and emotion