There is a difference between an ideal and a vision. An ideal has no moral inspiration; a vision does. People who give themselves over to ideals rarely do anything. People who have vision are constantly inspired to go above and beyond.

    Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,

    Or what’s a heaven for?

    —Robert Browning

An idealistic notion of God may be used to justify a neglect of duty. Jonah argued that because God was a God of justice and mercy, everything would be all right, no matter what Jonah did (Jonah 4). Jonah’s idea about God was correct—God is just and merciful—yet this was the very idea that stopped Jonah from doing his duty.

If we have a vision of God, we will lead a life of virtue, because the vision brings with it a moral incentive. Ideals, on the other hand, may lull us into ruin by causing us to lose sight of God. When we lose sight of God, we begin to be reckless. We stop exercising self-control; we stop praying; we no longer look for God in the little things. If we are eating out of our own hand—doing things on our own initiative, never expecting God to come in—we have lost vision and are on a downward path.

Is your attitude today one that springs from a vision of God? Are you expecting him to do greater things than he has ever done? Is there freshness and energy in your spiritual outlook? Take stock of yourself spiritually and see whether you have vision or merely ideals.

Wisdom from Oswald

Awe is the condition of a man’s spirit realizing Who God is and what He has done for him personally. Our Lord emphasizes the attitude of a child; no attitude can express such solemn awe and familiarity as that of a child.  Not Knowing Whither, 882 L