(By Innocent Maja)
**Proverbs 29 v 18 says that “Where there is no vision (revelation), my people perish (or people cast off restraint)…”
For some time I have been wondering why most people do not succeed in life (be it in ministry, career, marriage, finances, etc). It seems many people especially Christians are either mediocre or poor in everything they do. They seem not to know the reason for their existence. They are predominantly not focused even though they claim to live holy lives. Most of them cannot initiate anything. They are mere robots who are good at following instructions than pioneering projects. This painfully has enmeshed criticism from heathens. It has brought Christianity to ridicule. Yet there are a few who seem to succeed in everything that they do. I have been wondering why this is so for long until I came across this portion of scripture which gave me enlightenment on the things that I am going to share with you herein.
Analysing the scripture
I will explain this portion of scripture in the context of the words ‘vision’ and ‘perish’ which to me are key in understanding the Proverbs 29 v 18.
The Hebrew word for perish is ‘yipara’ meaning ‘to be loose’ or ‘carefree’ or ‘unrestrained.’
What Solomon is saying here is that without vision or revelation, people become loose, unrestrained or carefree. They live anyhow. Their lives will lack direction. That is the reason why the NIV says ‘…people cast off restraint.’
An unrestrained person can do anything. Nothing guides them. They do not accomplish anything at all in life because of their lack of focus. They are loose. Have you realized that anything loose does not accomplish any purpose. For example,
if the string to a bow is loose, the arrow will neither take flight nor hit the target
if the automobile fan belt becomes loose, it will not rotate the fan and cool the engine
if anybody becomes morally loose, he will not respect his body as a temple of the Holy Spirit and will abuse same with immorality, alcohol, drugs etc
If your trouser belt is loose ….
There are instances in the Bible when people failed to accomplish anything because of lack of direction. For instance, Judges 18 &19 records that there came a time in Israel when Israel had no king and people lived as they liked. Genesis 1v1 speaks of a time when the earth was formless and darkness afflicted it and everything was chaotic and the spirit of God hovered upon the earth.
Lack of direction is usually shown by a poor man’s mentality. If you ask a poor man what he would do with US$1Billion if he gets it, he will tell you that he will quit his job and spend the money. His mind does not even consider investing the money. He consumes both the seed and the yield. This is a wrong mentality and attitude altogether. God does not usually give us money until we know what we want to use it for.
** What is clear from above is that without vision, the life and welfare of the people become unfocussed and endangered. They become ineffective and will not realize God’s purpose on their lives. In the end they perish
*One woman who was born blind was asked this question “What is the worst thing on earth than being blind?” Instead of being offended and demoralized by this question, she confidently answered “The worst thing than being blind is to have full sight but lacking vision.” She raised an important concept that vision is a vital part of a human being’s life. The question that arises is ‘What is vision?’
I will attempt to define vision in 4 ways namely;
(1) Vision is the ability to see the future and securing it – a visionary is able to postulate the future. Visionaries know that it is guaranteed to happen.
**3 Characteristics of a visionary
He sees more than everybody else
He sees further than everybody else
He sees before everybody else
Most people on earth today are shortsighted. They live in that “one day at a time sweet Jesus.” They do not see beyond today. If you are one such persons you have to see further.
There are numerous examples of people who lack vision in our day and age. A person who intends to get into Christian ministry must first count the cost. He needs to have a goal for his ministry. This goal should then translate into a plan coupled with activities to fulfill the goal. They then need to pursue the goal irrespective of resistance. Again character is the virtue that will sustain that ministry. Luke 14 v 28 to 32 is very instructive in this regard.
A person who intends to start a family should very well plan for it beforehand. The same applies with pursuing a career. One needs to plan, be focused on the goal and be diligent in the pursuit of the goal. One also needs to utilize opportunities that come their way. Ecclesiastes 9 v 10 & 11 clearly state that ‘..the race is not for the swift, nor the battle for the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill, but time and opportunity happen to them all’
People should also have discipline in their finances. People have to minimize their phone, rent and electricity bills. These are not assets but liabilities. People also have to learn to live within their means and to invest some of the money they generate. Ecclesiastes 11 v1-2 encourages you to ‘Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight, for you don’t know what evil shall be upon the earth’
People should take their health seriously because it is only when a person is healthy that they can be able to run around and work. They should mind the type of meals they take. It does not serve any purpose to eat foods with starch alone without other nutrients.
(2) Vision is the God-given ability to see possible solutions to the everyday problems of life
Visionaries do not usually focus more on the problems that they face but on the solutions to those problems. Jesus gives a clear example in the parable of the shrewd or unjust servant in Luke 16 v 1-9. This schemer was caught by the employer and was given notice that he would be dismissed. Rather than ponder on the problem of dismissal, he began to secure his future by granting favours to his employer’s debtors so that they could also assist him when he is fired. Jesus commends this shrewd person for his wisdom in finding solutions to his problem.
(3) Vision is the ability to see beneath the surface of people’s lives
I have come to realize that there is potential in every individual that we meet no matter how unpolished the people appear. Visionaries helps those people realize and utilize their potential. Jesus did this with Simon. He realized the potential that was in his life, helped Simon to realize this potential and even devoted time to develop the potential. In Matthew 16 v 18, Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter ‘On this rock I will build my church and the powers of death will not prevail against it.’ Peter indeed began a pillar of the early church.
Proverbs 20 v 5 is very instructive in this regard. It says that ‘the purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters but a man of understanding draws them out.’ We need to have the ability to draw the best out of people. There is need for visionary parents who will study their children diligently, pray intensely and converse with them perceptively in order to identify and draw out each child’s uniqueness. There is a great need for visionary spouses who will look beneath the surface and probe around until they find jewels hidden deep in their mate’s soul. The world needs visionary business leaders who will treat their workers like real people and diligently try to match their unique skills with commensurate responsibilities. The lost world requires visionary witnesses who can look at unbelievers with no time for Jesus and say ‘I wonder what Christ’s transforming power could do in that person’s life’. The church needs visionary disciplers, mature Christians who can look past the stumbling and bumbling sod baby believers and say ‘I see potential there and I am going to draw it out’ For example, in Acts 18v24-27, the Bible says that there was a man in Ephesus called Apollos who was ‘mighty in the scriptures’ but only knew the baptism of John. Priscilla and Acquila invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. Apollos later became a pillar in the Corinthian church. Do not thwart potential. Develop it instead.
(4) Vision is the God-given ability to catch a glimpse of what God wants to do through your life if you totally dedicate your life to Him
I always say to people that true success is when a person manages to do that which God destined him to do. We need to discover this and pursue it.
Importance of vision
Vision is very important in people’s lives. It brings direction, guidance and a road map to people. That probably explains why the word of God places much emphasis on vision. An example is Jesus’ healing of a blind man at Bethsaida. Jesus was very powerful. He only prayed for a person once or just commanded a blessing and a miracle would happen. But he had to pray twice for this person’s sight (or figuratively speaking, vision) to be restored. The world has also copied this important truth from the word of God. A study of all successful revolutions reveals that all revolutionaries emphasized on the slogan. The slogan served as a vision, a road map that people had to follow. By repeating the slogan over and over again, revolutionaries managed to drill important information (vision) into their followers. Even companies have mission statements that serve as a vision for the organisation.
Vision is one of the vital keys of success. A person needs to conceive a vision and become obsessed by it. In addition to this, one needs to execute the vision because vision without execution usually results in confusion.