Man’s Perspective Versus God’s Perspective
THE WORD PERSPECTIVE means, “a particular attitude toward, or way of evaluating something; a point of view.” Our perspective is always determined by the way we look at situations or people. We can look at things through the perspective of the natural or the perspective of God’s Word and the personal leading of His Spirit.
Man’s perspective is led by what he can see, feel, or hear in the natural. It’s determined by numbers, money, personal agenda, self preservation, fear of man, and, ultimately, pride. Our flesh (Gal. 5:17) is so subtle that we can allow the whole direction of our lives to be motivated by man’s perspective and not God’s. Our continual prayer ought to be, “Lord, open my eyes, spiritually, so that I can see things as You see them.”
The difference between man’s viewpoint and God’s viewpoint is not always clear. It takes Spirit-led discernment to know the difference between the two. A statement that is made sometimes is, “Good doesn’t mean it’s God.” But what looks and feels good sure makes some things appear as if they have to be of God. The same scenario can be flipped: If it looks bad, then we can automatically assume that it’s not God. The reality is that no matter what the circumstances are, God’s will is not determined by the natural. God overrules the natural world because He’s the supernatural God.
A perfect example of this in Scripture is when Paul told the elders of the church in Ephesus, “And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me” (Acts 20:22-23).
The Spirit was leading Paul to go to Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost and fellowship with the believers in Jerusalem. The problem was that Jerusalem was a center of persecution against Christianity and the apostle Paul represented true new covenant Christianity more than anyone in the world of his day. When Paul told the elders in Ephesus where he was going, “They all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more” (Acts 20:37-38).
The elders in Ephesus assumed Paul’s mission to Jerusalem meant certain death. They most likely had some reservations about whether or not Paul was truly hearing from God. In just a few days, while Paul was in Tyre, some believers tried to persuade Paul not to go to Jerusalem (Acts 21:4). They heard what God told Paul, but they viewed it from man’s perspective. A few days later, while Paul was in Caesarea, the prophet Agabus prophesied over Paul saying, “Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles” (Acts 21:11).
Agabus’ prophesy was from God, but the believers in Caesarea, including Luke (who wrote the book of Acts), interpreted the prophesy as if God was telling Paul not to go to Jerusalem. They were thinking that there was no way that God would lead Paul to a place of persecution. They were viewing it from man’s perspective. They tried earnestly to persuade Paul not to go to Jerusalem, but to no avail. “And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done” (Acts 21:14). This gives us a powerful truth that when the leading of the Spirit doesn’t make sense in the natural, we should come to the same conclusion as the believers in Caesarea—“The will of the Lord be done.”
Paul was simply following the personal word of the Lord for himself. It didn’t make sense in the natural to other sincere believers because it appeared as if it would bring an end to Paul’s ministry. In reality, Paul’s persecution in Jerusalem would eventually lead to his martyrdom in Rome. But Paul’s imprisonment in Rome would lead to him writing four books of the New Testament—the “prison epistles.” Paul was simply viewing the Spirit’s leading from God’s perspective. God’s perspective is one of faith even when it doesn’t make sense in the natural.
What can we learn from this example in Acts 20 and 21? There are many things, and here’s a few that stick out:
The word for us today and everyday is to view things through the eyes of faith, and not through our natural eyes alone. Lord, help us to have Your perspective on everything in life, and not trust in our own.
- We should have such a prayer life that we can hear clearly from God.
- After we’ve tested and discerned God’s personal leading for our lives, we should view it from God’s perspective—the perspective of faith.
- Sometimes the people who we think would understand God’s leading for our lives will be the very ones who won’t understand it. Sometimes even godly people will view things from man’s perspective, and what it means in the natural only.
- Trusting in God’s Word will always result in what’s best for us (and others), and it will always result in God being glorified.