Appendix IV: ATTITUDES RULE
When we illustrate the heart as one of our triangles, attitude appears at the top feature of our expressive heart. Our attitude is the most important heart feature.
Scripture uses the word “heart” to speak of our character, attitude, and personality (CAP)—“who” we are as expressive beings. Attitude maintains the top place in our illustration because it colors and influences everything we say and do.
God amplified the importance of our heart’s attitude when He sent the prophet Samuel to anoint David as king.
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 attitudes exercise an amazing influence over who we really are as a person and maintain a certain rule over all our activities. Our attitudes permeate our entire being (body, soul, and spirit) to influence all our expressions.
Our responses in life are not so much about the circumstances but rather emanate from what we are made of. The same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg.
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.
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. Because God’s displeasure was not with what Cain offered, God instructed the Israelites later on to bring offerings from their crops. 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).
Every time the NASB uses countenance, an 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 expression of attitude. Cain responded to God’s caution by killing Abel, and then fled from the influence of God’s presence to dwell in the land of Nod.
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 attitude he adapted when he chose to ignore God’s guidance.
Attitude infects what we think, feel, and believe (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.
When we say, “My heart belongs to…(my spouse, my children, my friend, my country, my God),” we speak of allegiance, loyalty, and commitment. The attitude of our heart, both good and bad, tends to direct what we do and say, to support or to undercut our commitments.
This is why we want to be fully committed to God and his ways and not be half-hearted. 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.
Therefore the LORD God of Israel declares…“For those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed” (1 Samuel 2:30).
A negative attitude toward God, as Adam and Eve accepted, will seem to limit the demonstration of His love for us because we separate ourselves from His intimate care.
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear (Isaiah 59:2).
While we can point to many apparent causes for our struggles, Scripture gives us a list of obvious core problems. The first in a list is generally the primary or most important one.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).
The first, and thus primary, item listed is “rulers.” The Greek word arche means: basic, underlying, foundational cause. The KJV translates the plural and singular of this Greek word eight times as “principality” and forty times as “beginning.” Every time this word is used, it speaks of a beginning, a start, or an initial cause.
The primary causes we struggle with probably refer to the original thoughts that led our first parents away from God’s guidance. The idea they accepted indicated we should be as God and rule ourselves. This planted an attitude that still tempts us to arrogantly act like we do not need God or anyone else.
It is helpful to realize that some attitudes are more surface level while some 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 the temptations to ignore our heavenly Father (James 4:7). When we entertain such thoughts, they infect our consciousness, take root, and then can become as oppressive overlords. Our deep-seated attitudes affect everything we say and do.
Godly attitudes are life-giving while others tend to be destructive. The real battle of the ages is the battle for our soul (our mind, will, and emotion). Our soul consciousness is the incubator (breeding place) and primary launching pad for expressive attitudes. This conflict rages in every person.
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 choice to create our attitude. We cannot change our past, the way people act, or the inevitable. We can, however, change our attitude.
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, 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?
Does our heart 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?
Scripture gives us a gold standard for God’s attitudes.
But the fruit [expressions] of the Spirit [of God] is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
When these attitudes become ours, they make all the difference in the world and equip us to be more than overcomers.
Expressive Heart Reveals Us
He was one of five siblings, born to a construction worker and homemaker. They lived in the deep South and one of his first jobs was working for a plumbing contractor. At age 16 John said of it, “I never drew inspiration from that miserable work.” His heart was not in it.
When he was halfway through college, he worked part time in retail sales as a sales clerk in the men’s underwear section of a department store, which he described as a “humiliating” experience. His heart was not in that either.
After completing college and earning a law degree, he had intended to pursue a career as a tax lawyer. He was soon overcome by the “complexity and lunacy” of it. His heart was not in that profession either so he returned to his hometown to become a trial lawyer.
After a decade of practicing law and serving in his state legislature, he decided to try his hand at writing a novel. It took him three years to complete the book, but these three years were different because his heart was finally in what he was doing. In 1991 he turned once again to the writing he so enjoyed and began his second novel. Its success prompted him to leave his law practice altogether.
In each of the years that followed, he continued to write best-selling novels. Why? Because he finally found his heart’s true expression. Who is this well-known novelist? You may have heard of him: John Grisham, author of The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, and many others. It seems that when a person’s heart is in their work, they can be very successful!
The Real You
Mankind began as a thoughtful desire in God. After creating the natural universe, He formed a body from the natural realm and fused a touch of His eternal Spirit into the body. As the being began to animate and live, a consciousness (soul) began to develop.
This relational composite of body, soul, and spirit equips each of us with a unique ability to partake of and interact with both the natural and spiritual realms. God has gifted each of us with the ability to express ourselves as a means of dealing with our built-in need to connect with and relate to the Spirit of God and to one another.
While our body, soul, and spirit describe what we are as a being, our heart defines who we are as a person. It will become apparent through this chapter that our heart represents who we are—the real us.
We trust you’ve enjoyed the preview for this chapter. We hope you’ll purchase a copy of the book and join us on this exciting faith journey. Created to Relate is available from this website or Amazon.com