I recently had opportunity to travel to Toronto and after driving down Airport Road, went into the city on the Queen Elizabeth Way and the Gardiner Expressway. As I drove along the Gardiner I passed the Seaway Towers Hotel. There are about nine or ten floors of that hotel that stand above the level of the Expressway.
Passing near the hotel, off in the background I could see the CN Tower. It was interesting to me how the perspective of my view at that time made the Seaway Towers look extremely large and tall, while the CN Tower looked rather short in comparison. I realized this was because I was seeing them both at once and the Seaway Towers was so close to me that my perspective was thrown off. I was reminded of a picture I had seen of a young lady, who shall remain nameless. She had put her hand out toward the camera as a picture was being taken of her. The picture was a close-up of her hand which appeared to be several times larger than her head. This, of course, was not the case, but was again the matter of perspective which caused the hand to appear so much larger than it actually was.
Another lesson I have learned on perspective has come as a result of getting into my middle thirties. 1 can remember that when I was a child, it seemed so long from one year to the next. If a man were spoken of as being 40 years old, he seemed to be ancient. Yet, as I have gotten closer to that age myself, I realize how short a time it really is.
Speaking with a psychologist about the passage of time and children adjusting to it, he said that for a child, a week is like a year. To promise a child that in a week or a month something was going to take place will seem like forever to him, while to an older person the time would seem very short. He suggested that a child sees a week as a year, a teen sees a month as a year, but, the adult sees years as a day! Again, it’s a matter of perspective how we adjust and how we accept the passage of time.
One can read from historical records of the emphasis that was put on the physical exercise in the Greek and Roman games. For an individual to be able to excel in the Roman or Greek games was indeed a thing of merit. He would receive much praise from the people of his day and might find a place in history as a result of it. Today we give honor to those who, because of their physical ability, are outstanding in one sport or another. Such a person may get an invitation to visit the Prime Minister or the U.S. President.
It is interesting that often it appears that this reputation and recognition comes and lasts only so long as the individual remains a leader in his or her sport. Almost without exception, those who have been great at one time or another are forgotten in the hustle and bustle of the new season and the new superstar.
I suppose if a questionnaire were to be given out, we would receive a great number of answers to the question of the measurement of success. We live today in a time when people measure success not by the kindness of a person nor the good works he or she may do, but rather the amount of money he or she possesses, the number of acres (or hectares) he or she can call his or her own, or perhaps some position of prominence that they may hold. Practically every culture and every people will have those different qualities upon which they base their ideas of the success of an individual.
It is interesting when one considers the way Jesus viewed what was important in life. We remember the story of Jesus in the fourth chapter of John when He was talking with the woman at the well. You will remember-that Jesus’ disciples had gone into the city to buy food. After they left, Jesus began His conversation with the woman who came to draw water from the well. When the disciples returned, they encouraged Him to eat. Jesus answered, in verse 32, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” The disciples began to ‘wonder then if someone had brought Jesus food or, how had He been able to eat when they know He had no food there when they left Him. Jesus answered the question in their minds in verse 34 when he said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to accomplish his Work.” Jesus saw as His food the doing of God’s will. Again, perspective.
The apostle Paul seemed to have on his mind the Greek and Roman games as he wrote to his young son in the faith, Timothy. Paul talks to Timothy about his work as an evangelist and the things that should have real importance in his life. He suggests that as a good minister he should be nourished on the words of Jesus and that he should be faithful to the doctrine of Christ. “If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe” – 1 Timothy 4:6- 10 (ESV). Again, perspective.
Jesus, talking about success in life, made a statement in the Sermon on the Mount that shows us the fallacy of placing one’s success in the accumulating of wealth and worldly titles. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will bealso” – Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV).
Jesus suggests here that the proper perspective would show that laying up treasure on earth will not bring happiness and success since what can be laid up here can be consumed and can be moth-eaten and can rust. However, if one lays his treasure up in heaven by doing God’s will and by serving God faithfully then he is in a position to enjoy that which can never fade – the treasure in heaven.
Perhaps today is the day for you to clarify your perspective. Perhaps today is the day for you to make a choice as to whom you will serve and to what you will give emphasis in your life.
Joshua is a great example to wrap up our thoughts. He clearly had the proper perspective. He saw serving God as being the important thing in life. At the end of his life he speaks to the people of God and gives this important advice, “Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” – Joshua 24:14-15 (ESV).
Of course the people made the right response, “Then the people answered Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods, for it is the LORD our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. And the LORD drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God’” – Joshua 24:16-18 (ESV). What a great statement of promise by the people… however you know they often did not live up to their promise.
The bottom line is that everyone has to clarify their perspective and choose today whom they will serve. You and I must order our life that it may be pleasing to God, and as the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, you will be blessed both in this life and in the life to come. May God bless us each one as we commit to serve the LORD 24/7 as long as we shall live on this earth.