Have you ever heard someone say, "You need to have an attitude check"? What do they mean by that? Most likely they mean that your attitude is bad, and you need to examine it and make the proper corrections. Is our attitude an important issue? Does our attitude really matter? I think that the answer to both of these questions is, "Yes".
The Bible talks about the importance of our attitude.
Philippians 2:5 (NKJV) Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
The word "mind" here is the Greek word phroneo, which means: "thinking" or "attitude." Paul is saying that Christians need to have the "attitude" of Christ. The attitude that is being called for in this context is that of humility (verses 3-4). As Christians, we are called to pattern our lives after Christ.
1 John 2:6 (NKJV) He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
1 Corinthians 11:1 (NKJV) Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:6 (NKJV) And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,
Matthew 11:29 (NKJV) "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
We are to learn from Christ and follow the example that he set. We can only learn from Him as we study Him through His Word.
Attitude is important. And as Christians, we are to have the attitude of Christ.
To demonstrate the importance of our attitude, let me share with you an article written by a lady named Francie Baltazar-Schwartz, entitled "Attitude is Everything":
Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, 'If I were any better, I would be twins!'
He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.
Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, 'I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?' Jerry replied, 'Each morning I wake up and say to myself, "Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood." I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.'
'Yeah, right, it's not that easy,' I protested.
'Yes it is,' Jerry said. 'Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live life.'
I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it. Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body. I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, 'If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see my scars?'
I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. 'The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door,' Jerry replied. 'Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live.'
'Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?' I asked.
Jerry continued, 'The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read, "He's a dead man." I knew I needed to take action.'
'What did you do?' I asked.
'Well, there was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me,' said Jerry. 'She asked if I was allergic to anything. "Yes," I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply... I took a deep breath and yelled, "Bullets!" Over their laughter, I told them, "I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead."'
Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything."
The roots of this emphasis on the dynamic energy of confident thought stretches back quite far in history. The power of the mind was emphasized nearly three thousand years ago by the author of Proverbs 4.
Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV) Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.
The Good News Bible puts it this way:
Proverbs 4:23 "Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts."
We could paraphrase this verse this way: "Guard your mind (or attitude) above everything else you do because it will determine the life you live." We spend a lot of time and money protecting and guarding our houses, cars, and physical property. We take out insurance, and do many things to protect our property. But the most important asset that we need to guard is our thinking.
In A.D. 50, the Apostle Paul urged his friends in Rome -
Romans 12:2 (NKJV) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
A hundred years later, the Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote: "Our life is what our thoughts make it."
In the middle of the 1800s, the American writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, said: "A man is what he thinks about all day long."
In the early 1900s, William James said: "The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can change his life by changing his attitude of mind."
Our attitude is important. Let me share with you a few attitudes that are very important to our spiritual health.
1. THE ATTITUDE OF PERSEVERANCE.
If you want to be a Christian whose life is honoring to the Lord, you need perseverance.
2 Peter 1:5-7 (NKJV) But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.
Do you have the attitude to persevere no matter what obstacles you come against, or are you easily discouraged?
In one of his books, Norman Vincent Peale told about a young man named Walter Harter:
Walter was a rather average young man with a slight limp who grew up in a farming community. Denied the opportunity of a college education due to his family's financial circumstances, he set his heart on working in New York City.
He went to the local telephone company and borrowed the New York City telephone directory. He looked up the listings of various stores in that great metropolis. Then he decided to concentrate on a well-known chain that had 393 stores throughout the metropolitan area. He planned to write each of them by hand asking for a position. That was quite a project for a teenager with limited time and resources. He wrote fifteen letters a day. And he stuck to it, day after day, but without a single reply.
Finally, after writing to every branch of the chain with absolutely no response, he scraped up a few dollars and headed for the big city. The first store he visited was a large one near Times Square. After listening to his story, the manager told him that even if they had received his letter they would have sent it on to the personnel department of the chain.
Walter didn't even know what a personnel department was, but he followed the manager's directions to a large building on Park Avenue. There he was taken to a stern-faced man sitting behind a large desk. This man seemed to be in charge of everything. After telling his story once more, Walter waited as the man behind the desk stared at him for what seemed like the longest time. Then the man smiled and stood to his feet. He pointed to a table holding stacks of letters. 'Your applications are here,' he said, 'all three hundred and ninety-three of them! We figured that someday you would walk in here. We have a job waiting for you. You can start this afternoon.' (Adapted from The Power of the Plus Factor, Norman Vincent Peale, New York: Fawcett Crest, 1987).
If Walter Harter had known the right way to go about applying for a job, he might very well have received a polite rejection. But his perseverance helped him land the job of his dreams.
The Apostle Paul was characterized by perseverance. In writing to Timothy, he praised him for following his example of perseverance.
2 Timothy 3:10 (NKJV) But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance,
Paul had the attitude to persevere with his mission no matter what happened to him because of it.
Acts 20:20-24 (NKJV) "how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, 21 "testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 "And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 "except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
What if Paul would have been a quitter? What if he would have shut his mouth at the first sign of trouble? Paul had an attitude of perseverance.
Automobile genius, Henry Ford, once came up with a revolutionary plan for a new kind of engine. Ford was eager to get his great new idea into production. He had some men draw up the plans, and presented them to the engineers.
As the engineers studied the drawings, one by one they came to the same conclusion. Their visionary boss just didn't know much about the fundamental principles of engineering. He'd have to be told gently--his dream was impossible.
Ford said, "Produce it anyway."
They replied, "But it's impossible."
Ford commanded, "Stay on the job until you succeed, no matter how much time is required."
For six months they struggled with drawing after drawing, design after design. Nothing. Another six months. Nothing. At the end of the year Ford checked with his engineers and they once again told him that what he wanted was impossible. Ford told them to keep trying. They did--and finally they made it work. If Henry Ford had known more about engineering, no one would have ever discovered how to build a V-8 engine.
As believers, we need to have the attitude of perseverance. We need to persevere in our Christian growth and in our spreading of the gospel.
The gospels tell us that Jesus dealt with at least three people who didn't choose to believe that their condition was without hope. One was the woman with a hemorrhage.
Matthew 9:20-21 (NKJV) And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. 21 For she said to herself, "If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well."
She had been to any number of doctors who had all told her the same thing. But she came to Jesus in a crowd to touch his garment, hoping that the simple contact would cause her to be well. The other was blind Bartemaeus who denied that blindness was permanent. The third was the leper, one of ten, who refused to believe that his condition was irrevocable. To each of these, Jesus said, "Your faith has made you well!"
If the woman had accepted the truth of what the doctors had told her, if Bartemaeus had known his blindness to be absolute, if the leper had been convinced that his condition was irreversible - then nothing extraordinary would have happened. But because they believed that their conditions were not hopeless, they persevered, and found a solution that far exceeded their expectations.
The person who says that it can't be done is defeated at the beginning. But the person who refuses to believe that anything is impossible will work harder and persist longer until he achieves incredible things that are important for his own life and for the lives of others as well.
Another attitude that is important to our spiritual lives is:
2. THE ATTITUDE OF HUMILITY
How many times in your life have you felt like God owed you something more than you were getting? Probably too many to count. We must understand that God does not owe any of us anything.
One of our big problems in understanding this is that we are twentieth century Americans. And being Americans, we have a strong sense of entitlement. We feel like we are entitled to certain things such as health, wealth, and an easy life. Being Americans, we feel like we deserve a lot. This attitude is very damaging to our spiritual lives.
We feel that our jobs owe us, our spouse owes us, our church owes us, our country owes us. This causes us to demand certain things from them. This is pride. In any and all of our relationships, we must have a humble attitude that seeks to give, not get, from the relationship.
You see, if you think you are a person worthy of receiving certain benefits, certain blessings, and you don't get them, what is your response? Anger or depression? Why? I'll tell you why. It is because you "think" you deserve better. Your thinking has been infected by the world and you think you are a person deserving better than you are getting. When, in fact, the Bible teaches that all we really deserve is Hell!
God owes us nothing. The Bible teaches that every thing we have has come from his gracious hand.
James 1:17 (NKJV) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
We don't have anything that we did not receive as a gift of His grace.
1 Corinthians 4:7 (NKJV) For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
Whatever we have, we have received from God. Now someone will say, "I have what I have because I worked hard for it." Please notice what God says about this very attitude:
Deuteronomy 8:17-18 (NKJV) "then you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.' 18 "And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
Everything we have comes to us from the hand of God. If we do not receive what we think we have a right to expect, it is ultimately God who has withheld. Whenever we demand our rights, we are saying that we are deserving. But the only thing we truly deserve is the Lake of Fire. Any thing that we give to God, He has first given to us.
1 Chronicles 29:13-14 (NKJV) "Now therefore, our God, We thank You And praise Your glorious name. 14 But who am I, and who are my people, That we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, And of Your own we have given You.
David offered thanksgiving and praise with a confession that even the gifts which had just been presented were possible because the Lord was their original Giver.
1 Chronicles 29:16 (NKJV) "O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own.
David knew that he and his people had not given anything to God that wasn't His already. Even our service to God comes from His hand. Isaiah said:
Isaiah 26:12 (NKJV) LORD, You will establish peace for us, For You have also done all our works in us.
Paul expressed it this way:
Acts 17:25 (NKJV) "Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.
Our life and breath are gifts of God's grace. What can we give Him that He hasn't first given to us?
So, if we realize the truth taught in the Scripture, we see that God doesn't owe us anything. It should make us profoundly grateful. We have all we have, not because we have earned it or deserve it, but because of God's wonderful grace.
Attitude is important, very important and we are called to have the attitude of perseverance and humility.
Our attitudes are a very important factor in living successful Christian lives. If your attitude isn't what it needs to be, spend some time in God's Word asking Him to make the changes that are needed in your life.
Two strangers attended the same church for several Sundays. No one spoke to them. One said, "I will give this church one more chance. If no one speaks to me next Sunday, I'll never go there again." The other said, "I don't like the no-speak situation in this church. If no one speaks to me next Sunday, I'll speak to someone." Next Sunday, the usher happened to seat both of these men, one in front of the other. As usual, after the service no one from the church greeted them. The first man rose to stalk out forever. The second man turned, and put out his hand and said, "Good morning, sir, I'm glad to see you. Fine sermon, wasn't it?" Both were pleased at having made a friend, and continued to come.
Which one of these visitors demonstrates your attitude? Are you a proud persons who gives up when things don't go your way or are you a humble person with and attitude of perseverance? Attitude is everything!
This past week a Christian family that we know lost their oldest daughter in a car crash. She was 22 years old and on her way back to college when she lost her life. A good friend of ours called me Wednesday night to see if I had heard about their loss. I told her that I had heard and was praying for them. She told me that she had just spoken to the mother and she sounded strong and at peace. She said that the mother said to her, "Many folks have called and told us what a blessing Sarah had been to their lives. This whole thing has been a very positive experience."
Folks, only a Christian can say that! But not every Christian would say that. Attitude is everything!