Attitude

<<approach, stance, thoughts>>

Attitudes are formed out of a combination of thoughts and feelings. We have opinions about, or a mental position towards something, and feelings about the issue, forming our frame of mind or mood. Our state of being depends on what we consider is going well, what is going badly and how we are doing. Attitudes are so powerful that they will make or break us, cripple us or give us the impetus to overcome. They are either positive and life-giving, being a catalyst for growth, change and accomplishment or negative, counterproductive, and life-depleting even to the extent of giving up the will to live. Which ones dominate in your life?

Attitudes, formulated in the control centre of our being, govern what we do and become and so largely determine our future, hence the Bible’s instruction to “Guard your heart more than any other treasure for it is the source of all life” (Prov 4:23). It is essential to have right heart attitudes. Desirable attitudes include being loving, forgiving, tolerant, faith-filled, humble, helpful, having a servant heart, desiring to be a blessing, thankful for the good things in life, overflowing in gratitude for what Christ did, submissive, dependence upon Jesus, joyful, encouraging, believing the best about others, and being more concerned with fulfilling my responsibilities than having my rights met, doing to others as I would like done to me, and believing ‘I can learn from you’. A person with an optimistic mind-set is a joy to be with, because they are outwardly focused and a real asset on the team! Contrast this with the negative qualities of a pessimistic person who leaves you feeling drained. Self-destructing attitudes are critical, proud, unforgiving, not submissive, demanding of personal rights, selfish, rebellious, arrogant, even worried and fearful. Such characteristics will limit our progress in Christ because they are contrary to His nature, and can cause numerous physical ailments.

When a man is gloomy, everything seems to go wrong; when he is cheerful, everything seems to go right! (Prov 15:15). This reinforces the virtue of having a positive mental attitude so look on the bright side of life accentuating the good and positive and show it on your face!  We would do well to follow the recommendations: “Fill your mind with good thoughts...Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:8; 1 Thes 5:16-18).

Complaining and other negative attitudes will erode our faith and cause us to become bitter and resentful towards others and God, leading to rebellion. Holding on to wrong and negative attitudes will inhibit spiritual life. Don’t conform to the world’s standards but to God’s, filling your minds with what is good and lovely, then the actions that result will reflect God’s nature in us. Bad and frustrating things will happen to us, over which we have no influence, but we need to keep a right attitude. So, when everything seems to go wrong, keep your eyes on God, confident of His love for you because He is in control and, if you are yielded to Him, the present trials are bringing about His purposes, working everything out for your best (Rom 8:28,29). There are basically only two attitudes we can have towards life in general – contentment or resentment.

Changing our attitudes

Attitudes are the hidden motivators in our personality that powerfully influence our outward actions.

Our thoughts and attitudes need to be harnessed and brought under control so, as a horse is ‘broken’, their immense power can be channeled into what is constructive and beneficial. It is not necessarily what happens to us but our reactions, determined by our attitudes and motives, that show what is in our heart; this will ultimately be revealed and be judged (Mk 7:20-23; 1 Cor 4:5; 1 Jn 2:15).  To effect real behavioural changes our attitudes must be transformed (Rom 12:1,2).  What attitudes do I need to change to be more like Christ? Do you want to make a mark for Him or just survive?

“As a man thinks in his heart so is he” and his attitudes will progress beyond thoughts into actions just as a harvest is reaped from what is sown (Prov 23:7).  Are you sowing the right seed to produce the kind of harvest you want to reap? Paul calls us to “Fix your thoughts on things above…you will be made new in the attitude of your mind” (Eph 4:23; Heb 3:1, 12:2).

Attitudes are changed, by asking God for His help in rejecting and replacing wrong thought patterns, praying for the person or situation that is troubling us and showing them love and respect. With the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to master sin in our own lives and the fruit of the Spirit is developed when we are confronted with a situation and choose to respond with the right attitude (Gal 5:22,23).

Changing attitudes is a process and persistence is needed. Paul believed there were greater levels to attain to in his relationship and service for God and said, “I press on” (Phil 3:12). Another time he said,

    We control our attitude

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed”. His attitude was one of confidence, viewing the challenging events as a setback that could be overcome, leading to greater service for God (2 Cor 4:8,9).

Handling problems

1/. Our perspectives on life (together with unresolved issues) determine how we respond and can be the cause of many problems in life. We don’t have control over other people’s actions or the situations that happen to us but we do have control over our attitude and reactions to those hassles. Although others may have caused us deep emotional or physical harm, especially during childhood, it is only as we address these situations that we have the power to dissolve and render them ineffective. Having right attitudes can transform circumstances while not excusing the wrongful behaviour of others. Processing the information that floods our heads is critically important and we may need help to review and interpret our experiences. Elijah was convinced he was the only one that was true to God, when in fact there were 7,000 others too (1 Kgs 19:14-18). Feed your mind with wholesome food, eliminating the destructive, harmful influences as much as possible (Phil 4:7,8). View these challenges in life as opportunities to grow in godly character (Rom 5:3-5; 1 Pet 1:6,7).

2/. Frustration can be the result of not having our wants met by the attention of others. We need to correct our wrong attitudes before they ruin our lives and testimony. Moreover, while being tempted is not a sin in itself, entertaining wrong thoughts and negative attitudes flavour our viewpoint and when such thoughts become a mental

     Attitudes are habits of thought,         habits are behavioural patterns

desire Jesus said it is sin, even if not actioned. When you are aware of wrong attitudes, take authority over them by bringing them into submission and this will result in a flow-on effect into the subconscious thoughts (Ex 20:17; Mt 5:27,28; 2 Cor 10:4,5).

Character is formed by diligently and faithfully doing even the smallest and menial tasks to God’s glory, together with doing the highest good for others (Mk 12:31; 1 Cor 10:31; 2 Cor 5:15; Phil 2:4).

3/. Some people wrongly take a masochistic attitude to suffering and chastise themselves unnecessarily. It is not the suffering that glorifies God but having a godly attitude in the suffering that brings the glory (1 Pet 2:19,20). Seeing a deeper purpose in our struggles will help us to ‘weather the storm’ joyfully (Heb 2:9; Jas 1:2-4). They are only a means to an end not an end in themselves.

Attitudes to God

Worship and surrender should characterize our attitude to God for ‘It’s not about me, but you Lord; I want to live for you and do Your will’. This only arises from our appreciation of what God has done for us. Reinforce such attitudes by reading the Word of God and pondering on its truths so they take control
of your mind and emotions (Ps 119:9,11). Believing the false information than Satan and others feed to us and adopting defeatist attitudes will also
prevent us entering in to what God has planned for us (Num 13:26-14:35).

Christ took a humble, obedient attitude, fulfilling God’s will and became victorious (Phil 2:5-11). Like Paul, he was “Not doing what I like or what is best for me, but what is best for others” (1 Cor 10:33). We, too, should look for and focus on the best in others and each situation. This will enable

    Behaviour modification is only achieved            with the reformation of our attitudes

us not be pulled down and discouraged by the negative. Our attitude to a particular challenge or task, including the uncertainty of change, either makes
or breaks us, causing us to experience victory or defeat.

Our stance toward God will also be reflected in our attitudes to authority. The arrogant, autonomous behaviour of many is the result of their disdain for
God and His ordering of this world, and they perpetuate such behaviors in their attitudes to earthly authorities (Rom 1:21,28).

See also: character, choice, expectation, motive/motivation, others, perspective, positive mental attitude, response, self-discipline, thinking/thoughts.

 


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