Around my mid-forties something drastic happened. I woke up one day and I couldn’t see! Not that I was blind exactly, I just couldn’t see. I picked up a bottle of Tylenol and I couldn’t read the small print, I squinted reading the Scripture references in my Bible, I pulled books further from my lap . . . what was happening?!
When it finally dawned on me that I might be having the same issue that I’d heard my older friends talk about—aging eyesight—I broke down and tried on a pair of reading glasses. They gave me a brand new perspective. Everything took on a whole new look.
My perspective completely changed once reading glasses adjusted my vision!
Today, I want to challenge us with the idea that we might need a new perspective when it comes to how we view someone who has disappointed us. We might need to adjust our vision.
I regularly preach this message to myself: Think the Best, Not the Worst!
How can you “think the best and not the worst” when someone has let you down? How can you have that kind of perspective toward someone who has proven to be untrustworthy, immature, hateful, or rude?
When someone disappoints me, I need help with a “vision adjustment.” It’s so hard to do, but I must train myself to look beyond a person’s actions, and focus on what God desires to do. I have to change my perspective from what I’ve witnessed, to what I know God can do in them. This isn’t living in denial; it’s adjusting my vision and taking on God’s perspective.
What if we develop the habit of viewing others through the grid of God’s potential work in their lives?
How would my perspective change if I learned to look at others knowing that God is able to conform them into the image of Christ?
What if we begin to view fellow believers, although sinful, for who they actually are “in Christ?”
Notice what Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit) says about the believers at Ephesus:
[box]Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3–6)[/box]
Notice Paul’s perspective on these believers. Paul refers to them as being chosen by God, “holy and blameless,” as sons who are living in His grace.
Were these Ephesian believers holy and blameless? No, I’m sure they weren’t totally holy and blameless in their actions, but these believers were “in Christ” and God views them (and us) in a holy and blameless position that is provided by Christ.
And on top of that—we’re family! We were orphans, but now have been adopted into God’s family. Since I have family ties with my fellow believers—that should impact how I view them. They are not strangers, not distant friends or enemies—they are family. We are in this together!
The believers in Ephesus were spiritually in a mess, similar to our churches today: filled with people who know Christ, but are still in need of much growth. People, like me, who should be much further along spiritually than I am! (The Ephesian Church was both commended and rebuked in Revelation chapter 2, and it was written, at the most, only thirty years after Paul’s letter, so from what we read there, we have proof that they weren’t the perfect church.)
Paul was talking to these believers who were in the process of spiritual growth and maturity. And we need to remember that growth is a process. It is sometimes a long, hard, slow process!
But it is a process that God starts and will continue according to Philippians 1:6:
[box]For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.[/box]
That gives me hope and encouragement on days when I’ve really messed up. But these verses should also be a perspective changer for me when it comes to how I view others.
I think God’s view of others may be much different than our view.
My perspective changes significantly when I look beyond the disappointment and set my sights on the potential work of God.
Grotius, the 17th Century Christian philosopher said:
“Jesus loved not virtues only, but seeds of virtues.”
Am I willing to look past the present disappointment to see the potential work that God can do in that person?
What is God’s perspective of the one who has disappointed me?
Does He look at them with a heavy heart and a negative perspective?
When I “think the worst” rather than hope for the best, where am I placing my faith?
Do I believe and have hope for what God can do? Do I trust that God is at work in their life?
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