by Crystal Townsend
Perspective. Do you ever look around and worry about life or get aggravated by the way things are unfolding? Possibly stressing about something small that feels ginormous? Deciding that your situation is simply “the worst”? If you are anything like me, you have been guilty of one or more of these mindsets on occasion. Now, I’m not saying it’s wrong to have feelings of frustration or concern, but our perspective helps determine what we do with those feelings. Do we have an inward focused perspective that causes us to live in self-pity, lash out in anger, and live selfishly? Or do we have an outward focused perspective realizing the fact that we live in a fallen world but are recipients of God’s grace and mercy? The latter generally leads to behavior that is glorifying to God and builds up our brothers and sisters.
As we study Acts, we follow Paul and Barnabas on their early missionary journeys, reading of the persecution, hardships, growth, and joy. Chapter 14 gives a clear picture of these aspects of their ministry, from speaking boldly through the conflict at Iconium to dealing with a crowd bowing down to them as gods, only then for Paul to be dragged away and stoned as they redirected the people to the only One worthy of praise. The apostles’ perspective leads them to spend extra time dealing with conflict, to lead the crowds to the truth, and then finally to go back to the church rejoicing. Luke tells us “…they gathered the church together and reported on all that God had done through them and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” (Acts 14:27). They didn’t gather the church together and complain about their hardships. They spoke of what God had done. This is a beautiful picture of Paul and Barnabas’ perspective. They were truly striving to live and serve for the glory of God. So maybe, just maybe, as we experience frustrations and hardships, we can remember to check our perspective and focus our hearts on the truth of God’s promises and rejoice, for He is always worthy of our praise.