June 8, 2017
Have you considered the power of attitude? Attitude colors and influences everything we say and do. Originating from one of two sources, every attitude is either from God or other sources. We find that Godly attitudes are life-giving while others tend to be destructive.
Attitude is the crowning feature of our heart. Scripture uses the word “heart” to speak of our character, attitude, and personality (CAP)—who we are as expressive beings. When we illustrate the heart as a triangle, attitude appears at the top.God amplified the importance of our heart’s attitude when He sent the prophet Samuel to anoint David king of Israel.
The LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his [physical] appearance or at the height of his stature…For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Our heart’s character and personality are both subject to the attitudes we entertain. Our primary attitudes exercise an amazing influence over who we really are as a person and maintain a certain rule over all our physical and spiritual activities.
Yes, attitude powerfully colors and influences our comments, and actions. A bad attitude can make the right thing we say come across inappropriately, while a good attitude can make most any word sound right. We may say the right words to someone in a difficult situation and our lack of sympathy (attitude) will cause what we say to come across as empty words. We can say “I really care” or “I love you” and our insincerity will make our words sound worthless.
Attitude powerfully colors and influences our comments and actions.
Permeating our entire being, attitudes rule and influence all our expressions. Our responses in life are not so much about reactions to external circumstances; rather, they emanate from what we are made of. For instance, the same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg.
Countenance – Attitude’s Visible Expression
One of the first stories in Scripture tells of Adam’s sons Cain and Abel. When they brought offerings to God, He was not pleased with Cain. However, God’s displeasure was not with what Cain offered since God later instructed the Israelites to bring offerings from their crops. As with David, God looked beyond the offering and saw in Cain’s heart an attitude that was amiss. God encouraged Cain to adjust his countenance (attitude) so sinful actions would not overtake him.
So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? … sin is crouching at the door… its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:5-7).
Countenance refers to a visible evidence of attitude. Unfortunately, Cain did not heed God’s corrective advice. Instead he killed Abel and wondered away from God’s influence to dwell in the land of Nod. Every time the NASB translates countenance, an obvious attitude is attached: a sad…, a fallen…, troubled in…, haughtiness of…, an angry…, a fierce…, rebuke of…, and the light of God’s countenance.
Countenance refers to a visible evidence of attitude.
It becomes obvious that Cain received his unrepentant attitude, at least in part, from his father. Adam lost his place in the Garden of Eden largely because he failed to repent of the obstinate attitude he adapted when he chose to separate from God’s guidance.
Attitude infects what we think, believe, and feel (the activity of mind, will, and emotion) and then exercises influence over our expressive activity. Henry Ford referred to attitude this way; “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.” A can-do attitude or a defeatist attitude affects how well we do everything.
Separating from God’s Care
This is why we want to be fully committed to God and his ways and not be half-hearted. We are God’s offspring! Throughout Scripture He unquestionably communicates His love for us; how He desires to care for us as His developing children.
Our attitude towards God affects how we perceive truth.
Our attitude towards God affects how we perceive truth and what we believe to be reality. It can minimize our perception of God’s care for us and make His love appear to be vague or negligible. A negative attitude toward God, as Adam and Eve accepted, can seem to limit the demonstration of His love for us because it separates us from His intimate care.
It is helpful to realize that some attitudes are more surface level while others are very deep seated. Jesus gave us an example of two sons that demonstrates how surface attitudes can spark immediate responses while deep-seated attitudes eventually win out.
“A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not” (Matthew 21:28-30).
Scripture instructs us to resist the devil and his temptations to ignore our heavenly Father (James 4:7). When we entertain and give such thoughts room and time to infect our consciousness, they take root and then become as oppressive overlords. Our deep-seated attitudes exercise more control over what we say and do.
Battle of the Ages
With what do we really struggle? Our primary struggle is with the attitudes that lead us away from God’s guidance. Beginning with our first parents in the Garden of Eden, we continue to wrestle with an attitude that tempts us to arrogantly act like we can do it ourselves and do not need God or anyone else.
Primarily, we struggle with attitudes that lead us away from God’s guidance.
This is the real battle of the ages, the battle for the soul of man (our mind, will, and emotion). Our soul is the incubator (breading place) and primary launching pad for expressive attitudes. This conflict rages in every person, even in those who are committed to God.
Do nothing from selfishness…with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:3-5).
The remarkable thing is that we have the ability and freedom to create our attitude. We cannot change our past, the way people act, or the inevitable. We can, however, change our attitude.
God’s Transforming Work
Does our heart’s expressive attitude appear to others as hateful or loving, demanding or thankful, obstinate or adjustable, suspicious or trusting, arrogant or gracious, insecure or confident, victimized or overcoming, condemning or forgiving?
How can we change our attitude and become better reflections of our heavenly Father? It begins with a desire. Do we desire to be and do better? If so, will we allow God to transform what we think, what we feel and what we believe? God is more than willing. The question is, are we willing?
Our heavenly Father always intends the best for us. And Scripture gives us a gold standard for the attitudes of a godly heart. When these attitudes become ours, they make all the difference in the world and equip us to be more than overcomers.
But the fruit [expressive actions] of the Spirit [of God] is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
While we journey through life here on earth, the on-going battle rages within each of us. We must ask ourselves, “Do the attitudes that rule my heart and influence my actions originate with my heavenly Father or are they rooted in something else?” God has given us free will to make this choice. Perhaps we’ll discover that we need to ask for His help to choose differently. Be assured, He welcomes our request.
Keith Carroll, Relational Gospel Founder
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