April 16, 2018

A Balanced Perspective

Have you ever wondered why, given God’s great love for us, He doesn’t immediately give us every single thing we ask for? Or perhaps you are at the opposite end of the spectrum, wondering if we matter at all to Him.

When we think about God’s view of us, some of us will have too low an opinion of ourselves, and others will have too high an opinion. Both of these extremes can be corrected by looking into God’s Word and understanding what He says about humanity. The Bible declares the extent to which God values us and our position in relation to Him, as well as His view concerning our purpose, responsibility, and destiny.    

What is our value?

David was one who contemplated how much God values humanity. In Psalm 8:3-4 he wrote, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” In his youth, David spent a lot of time alone in the countryside as he tended his father’s sheep. This was well before electricity and city lights, so there must have been many nights where he gazed up at the stars. As we read these verses, it is easy to imagine him staring up at the night sky and wondering, When compared to this vast universe, to everything I can see, why would I matter to God? Why would He care about me? God had revealed to David that He places a high value on humanity. David went on to describe this in verse 5: “For thou hast made him [man] a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” This tells us that God elevated us above the rest of His earthly creation.

Of all God’s creation, man is the only being made in His image and given dominion over the rest. 

Our value is also brought out in the account of Creation. Genesis 1:26 says, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” Of all God’s creation, man is the only being made in His image and given dominion over the rest. Additional singularities are found in Genesis 2:7, “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” This is not recorded of any other creature; man is unique in this aspect.   

One view that has been gaining popularity in society is that man is merely a slightly more sophisticated animal than all the rest, and a human life is no more important than that of any other creature. However, in years past, when Christianity was much more dominant in Western culture, the opposite view was prevalent. This can be seen in old news reports. I looked through some news articles of past disasters and noted that the word “souls” was used often to describe those who had died, as in, “There were a number of souls lost.” The same word was also used to describe the living. One account of the sinking of the Titanic stated there were not enough life boats to accommodate the 2,358 souls on board. The report was not referring to the number of dogs and cats on the ship. In fact, in every article, no matter how the word “souls” was used, it referred to humans. No explanation was needed for the reader. We have an inherent value, endowed by God at creation.

While it is important to understand that God values us highly, we don’t want to elevate ourselves above where He has placed us. We must remember that the first part of Genesis 2:7 says, “God formed man.” Different religions teach that man is equal to God, able to attain to the Godhead, or part of an “energy force” that is God. Any of these beliefs puts too high a value on mankind, and if we subscribe to them, our view of ourselves is too high. The Bible teaches that we are created beings, and God is our Creator.

What is our position?

In Biblical times, the people of Israel often exalted themselves above God by forsaking His ways and choosing their own. To demonstrate their faulty thinking, God offered an object lesson using a potter and his clay. It was seen through the eyes of Jeremiah the prophet, who later recorded, “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it” (Jeremiah 18:3-7). God is like the potter. He sets up nations, decides how they are formed, and chooses to either prosper them or withhold His protection. This lesson was directed at the nation of Israel, but we can learn something from it as well: any person presuming to be in the potter’s position is thinking too highly of himself.    

Individuals naturally tend to think that the world revolves around them. Children especially expect to get their own way, and often throw tantrums when they don’t. Eventually, most people grow out of this behavior. Some also quit being self-centered, but for Christians, that is not enough. Our lives need to be God-centered, fully surrendered to His will. God is the potter! If we will recognize our position as the clay in His hands, and daily submit to Him, He will mold and shape our lives into something useful.    

What is our purpose?

In 1 Corinthians 12:18-22, Paul compared the body of believers to the human body, saying, “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary.”

To think that what God has called us to do doesn’t really matter, would be to think too lowly of ourselves.

Before we were born, God had a plan and a purpose for our lives. We are each called to a specific role in helping to spread the Gospel, and every one of these positions is important. To think that what God has called us to do doesn’t really matter, would be to think too lowly of ourselves.  

Notice, though, that it is God who decides the area of service for the members. Verse 18 says, “God set the members . . . ” Thinking too highly of ourselves would be to believe we know better than God regarding the most advantageous place for us to serve. God takes into account many factors that we cannot see, including His purpose in assigning the role we fill. He may choose a task that we are not comfortable with, but if we will submit to His direction, our lives will be blessed and will glorify Him.

What is our responsibility?        

When a person repents of his sin and asks God into his life, God changes his heart and takes up residence there. Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 3:16 that this person then becomes the temple of God: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” At salvation, God’s Spirit begins to work through us, impacting the world around us. There is no greater privilege that could demonstrate how important we are to Him. Do we matter? Absolutely!

Paul continued in the next verse to say, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (verse 17). When our bodies become God’s temple, He becomes the master of the house. If we behave otherwise by disobeying His Word and bringing corruption into His temple, we elevate ourselves above our position. Our responsibility is to become a type of priest, constantly maintaining a holy dwelling place where God can abide.

What is our destiny?

Many people use the Scripture, “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” to tell others not to judge them, because they want to continue in some type of doubtful behavior without condemnation. However, few seem to read further to learn that, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged” (Matthew 7:1-2). Someday, every person will appear before the Almighty God. To think too highly of ourselves would be to think that our assessment is all that matters. We cannot live our lives by our own standards. We must submit to God’s righteousness, because someday we will stand before Him and give an account. Revelation 20:12 tells of that day: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”

If you are in an unsaved condition and know that you have done things that displease God, you might be fearful of having those things brought up at the final judgment. You need not fear; God values you so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on a Cross for your sin. All you need to do is bow before God and tell Him you are sorry. Ask Him to come in and change your life. He will wipe away your guilt, remove your sins as far as the east is from the west, and write your name in the Book of Life.

God sees how we interact with those around us at home, work, and school, and He records how our simple faithfulness in obeying what He gives us to do.

Just as the dead will be judged according to their sinful deeds, the righteous will be rewarded for their labor in the Gospel. To think too lowly of ourselves would be to think that our daily lives don’t matter, that our contribution to the Gospel is not as important as what others are doing. God sees how we interact with those around us at home, work, and school, and He records how our simple faithfulness in obeying what He gives us to do has an impact on others. What we do matters to God, because we matter to Him.  

What is your perspective?

Have you been struggling with an opinion of yourself that is either too low or too high? Ask God to give you the proper perspective as you look to His Word for guidance. There, you will find that you were created by the omnipotent God, who values you highly, loves you more than anything else in His creation, and has a purpose for your life.

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