In our service to the Lord we must maintain the proper perspective. If we do not, we can easily become discouraged or we may become overly excited and euphoric when we need to be a little more cautious.
Getting a proper perspective means that we take an honest look at the way things really are and not just see what we want to see. The proper perspective comes when we see the larger picture. We sometimes become weary and disgusted because we are only focusing on part of the picture. Taking a bigger view may give reason to be encouraged and even quite optimistic.
At times our optimism and enthusiasm overshadows our sense of being realistic. I believe it was Luther Blackmon that told about the man who thought he had a good pair of shoes. All they needed were half-soles, heels and uppers. Besides, the strings were real good. We cannot afford to ignore real problems. Neither can we allow a few problems to blind us to the good that is present.
At one time Elijah had lost the proper perspective. He thought there was no one but himself wanting to do what was right. He said, "I alone am left." God had to help him get the proper perspective by telling him that there were yet 7,000 that had not bowed their knees to Baal (1 Kings 19:10,14,18).
There are three things we need to see to get the proper perspective.
The Progress We Have Made
We need to look back and see where we were and how far we have come. Have we made any progress? Are things better now than they were? Or, are we going in the wrong direction? Remember, that progress is in many instances, slow (Heb. 5:11-12).
Individual Christians need to stop and consider the progress they have made. Do you know the Bible better now than you did a few years ago? Are you stronger and more mature (Heb. 6: 1)? Are you able to endure and overcome things that you could not in the past?
Churches have to do the same. While things may not be as we would like them to be in the congregation, the question is "Are we making progress?" Are we moving (even though slowly) in the right direction? Are we more united, stronger and striving to do things according to the Bible? Are we trying to deal with problems rather than ignore them? Don't forget that progress will not always be labeled "progress" by some.
What Are We Doing Now?
The proper perspective involves seeing what we are presently doing. Are we striving to do what the Lord says do? Can our concepts, teaching and practices be justified by the Bible (2 Cor. 4:13)? Is there a stronger sense of unity than in times past (1 Cor. 1:10)? Are we growing in knowledge, in maturity and in number? Are we moving in the right direction rather than in the wrong direction?
We can easily get discouraged when we listen to those who are discontent. If we focus our attention there, it will give us a limited picture of the church. We can begin to think that most of the people care little about doing what is right. It is somewhat like three or four old frogs in a pond -- they can make enough noise that it sounds like a hundred. What we need to do is take a look at how many are wanting to follow the Bible and try their best to live by it (Phil. 1:27). Those people don't make as much "noise," but must be taken into account to get the proper perspective.
Our Potential And Goals
To get the right view we must see how bright or gloomy the future is. Is there reason for some optimism as we contemplate the coming days?
What is our potential as individuals? What are you capable of doing? What kind of growth can you experience? What can you become? It is sad to see those who waste their time and throw away their potential (Heb. 5:11-12).
What is our potential as a church? What will the church of tomorrow be? Will the homes and the families that comprise the church be good solid homes or will the lack of Christianity in the home destroy the church? What is the potential for future teachers, song leaders and even elders? Does the future look better and brighter than the past?
What goals do we have or should we have? Individually, we must set our sights on being the kind of individuals that the Bible describes (1 Cor. 15:58). When we do, we have also set our sights on heaven (Col. 3:13).
As a local church, we must set our goal to become like the local church that God approves (Rev. 2-3). That means we must deal with the things that God does not approve of -- even though such processes are unpleasant (Rev. 2, 3; 1 Cor. 5 and 2 Thess. 3). We must strive to be active and carry the gospel to others (1 Tim. 3:15). We must work toward becoming scripturally organized (Acts 14:23). Churches that are content with the status quo and just "keeping house" (though sometimes they really don't do that) just don't have much of a goal to do what is pleasing to God.
Getting the proper perspective always helps. At times it will paint a dark picture. But in most cases it will give us some reason for encouragement.
By Donnie V. Rader -- Via Searching the Scriptures, November 1992, Volume 33, Number 11
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