A changed life is the bottom-line of Christianity. And attitude is central to that change.
We cannot change many of the circumstances in our life, but we can choose to allow life circumstances either to strengthen us or to destroy us. The determining factor is our attitude.
The Bible is full of exhortations to choose the right attitudes, because our attitudes ultimately determine our actions. To neglect the importance of attitudes in life is to be totally unbiblical! There are five basic principles about attitudes that are foundational to our understanding:
1. Our attitudes are chosen (Philippians 4:11).
We can choose to look at any situation positively or negatively. Some people are confirmed pessimists. They make a deliberate decision to have a negative mental and emotional response to every circumstance. Yet other people can look at the same circumstances and choose a positive outlook. The Apostle Paul is a good example of one who chose to have a positive attitude, regardless of his circumstances.
The Epistle to the Philippians has much to say about right attitudes. Paul was not sunbathing on the Riviera, sipping a cool drink, while he wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord, always.” Instead, he was in a Roman prison, awaiting his possible execution. Yet Paul was able to say in Philippians 4:11, “Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”
2. Our attitudes are influenced by input (Philippians 4:8).
To a large extent, our attitudes are shaped by external influences: what we read, what we watch, who we listen to, and what we think about. The mind truly is like a computer. Garbage in, garbage out. That is why Paul wrote in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”
Attitudes are not only influenced by what we read and watch but also by our friends. Luke 1:17 speaks of “the attitude of the righteous” in contrast to the attitude of the ungodly. That is why the Book of Proverbs is full of warnings about avoiding certain types of people. Solomon and David both understood that attitudes are highly contagious.
3. Our attitudes affect our relationships (James 4:1).
All of us are involved in relationships that could stand improvement: relationships with our spouses, children, friends, work associates, or our fellow church members. The Bible teaches that a wrong attitude isthe major source of relationship conflicts. James 4:1 says, “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?”
The major source of conflicts is a selfish attitude. Whenever you get two or more people together who are determined to get their way, you are going to have conflict. The solution is attitude. Philippians 2:4-7 says, “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, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”
4. Our attitudes are both the cause and the result of right behavior (Proverbs 23:7a).
Right actions also produce right attitudes. We live in a feeling-oriented society: “If it feels good, do it.” A husband or wife seeks a divorce because he or she “doesn’t feel anything any longer.” People quit their jobs because they “don’t feel fulfilled.” Christians quit going to church because they “don’t feel the Spirit” in the services.
When people say to me, “Robert, I feel so ‘blah’ about my faith. I’ve lost the excitement I once felt,” I immediately ask them about their spiritual disciplines. Are they reading God’s Word daily? How much time are they spending in prayer? When is the last time they led someone to Christ? The usual reply is, “I just don’t feel motivated to do those things.” I always have the same response: “If you wait until you feel like it, you’ll never do it! Do those things out of obedience to God, and eventually you will recover those lost feelings.”
5. Our attitude determines our destiny (1 John 1:9).
Attitudes profoundly impact life, death, and even eternity. The definition of an attitude is “our mental or emotional response to the circumstances of life.”
While we all experience many varied circumstances in life, there is one common circumstance we all encounter: sin. Sin is our failure to please God. And the Bible says all of us are guilty of it.
There is only one attitude that pleases God: an attitude of repentance. That means agreeing with God that you have failed, and turning to Him for forgiveness.
I do believe if you can change your attitude, you can change your life and your eternal destiny!