“You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change,” (Romans 2:4 MSG)
We are just going to start right there! Wow. If you skipped the scripture go back up and read it. Yes, God is kind and loving. But He is not soft on sin. God can see who we are right now and the person we will be at the same time. He knows all the steps to bridge the gap between the two.
Often those steps involve adjusting our attitudes, not making excuses, and facing our challenges. This week we will tackle attitudes. Dictionary.com defines an attitude as, “a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.” Even the definition is convicting: a settled way of thinking or feeling. Settled. I have decided this and I am not budging. Yikes.
I have been on Heaven’s Hot Seat for the past couple of weeks. Me and God have had quite a few sit downs about my attitudes. I have literally been cleaning the toilets or vacuuming the floor and heard Him say, “Remember, you get to do this.” Do I feel like that most of the time? No. Hence the “check your attitude” talks from God.
I believe in the power of vulnerability. I share what I am going through with y’all, not to air my dirty laundry, but in the hopes that if you find yourself somewhere similar, we can learn together. I am on a journey with the Lord. I want to please Him and grow.
A couple of weeks ago, God was walking me through an attitude I had towards someone. This person embarrassed me and I’m not going to lie, I enjoyed my not nice feelings towards them. I strangely felt powerful hiding behind my bad feelings. Of course, God knocked down that little idol I made and spoke truth to me. He broke my heart for this person and encouraged me to serve them.
My attitude clouded my view. Instead of seeing them as God’s child, I only saw them for what they did to me. Of course they made a mistake… they’re human! I make a bunch of mistakes every single day. Instead of bravely dealing with the issue, I got an attitude and distanced myself from them. We all do this don’t we?
It reminds me of the story of the prophet Jonah in the Bible. God asked Jonah to go to Nineveh and give the people a warning that they needed to turn to God or they would be destroyed. Jonah had an attitude about the Ninevites that caused him to disobey God, run the opposite direction, and ultimately get eaten by a nasty fish. Then, even after he obeyed God and delivered the word, his attitude was still so bad that he actually got MAD when God had mercy and saved the people of Nineveh.
Winston Churchill said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” Bad attitudes are powerful and lead us to bad places.
I found a secular article on Psychology Today called “8 Negative Attitudes of Chronically Unhappy People“. I am just using their main points, but the whole article is helpful. Here are the 8 attitudes that they say chronically unhappy people have:
- Self-defeating talk
- Negative assumptions
- Negative comparison with others
- Negative rumination about the past (stuck in the past)
- Disempowering beliefs about difficult people
- The desire to blame
- The struggle to forgive yourself
- The fear of failure and making mistakes
I’m sad to say that I know many of these too well. I don’t think any of us dreamt of being chronically unhappy people when we grew up, right!? As children, we dreamt of the places we wanted to go and the people we wanted to be. We wanted to live! Many of us are letting bad attitudes rob us of the life God has for us.
Here’s what the Bible has to say about attitudes:
“Live a cheerful life, without complaining or division among yourselves. For then you will be seen as innocent, faultless, and pure children of God, even though you live in the midst of a brutal and perverse culture. For you will appear among them as shining lights in the universe, offering them the words of eternal life,” (Philippians 2:14-16a TPT).
“A joyful, cheerful heart brings healing to both body and soul. But the one whose heart is crushed struggles with sickness and depression,” (Proverbs 17:22 TPT).
Oprah Winfrey said, “The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.” If bad attitudes are powerful and lead us to bad places, then I would like to think that great attitudes are even more powerful and lead us to great places. Let’s reframe the list and change our attitudes so that we can live chronically happy lives:
- Encouraging self-talk
- Positive assumptions
- Celebrating others
- Healthy appreciation of the past and hope for the future
- Empowering beliefs about people who need grace
- Taking responsibility
- Forgiving yourself
- Trusting God
I have made us an Attitudes Worksheet so we can process through our bad attitudes. Our attitudes affect the people in relationship with us but they also affect us. In fact, Proverbs 17:22 (listed above) tells us that our bodies will even start to reflect what is going on in our souls.
Christians should be the most forgiving, kind, free people on the planet. A lot of times that isn’t the case because we hold onto yucky attitudes. So the question is: Do we want to stay stuck in our bad attitudes or do we want to lay them down and grow? It really is our choice. Our lives are too valuable for them to be ruined by negative attitudes. Let’s choose to release those attitudes that hold us back and walk in freedom.