Sunday, 17 July 2016

On Attitudes

There are elements of our personality that have the power to make us or destroy us. They can cause us to ascend to awesome heights or descend into the depths of misery. I am referring to our attitudes. Every member of the human race has them, yet we are often unaware of the influence they have on the formation of our character.
What is an attitude?
An attitude is a mental position one takes in relation to someone or something. The mental position can be related to prayers, trials, people and more. Attitudes can be good or bad, constructive or destructive, edifying or discouraging. On the aesthetic scale they range from beautiful to repellent, and although they might affect people around us, they mostly bear on our own development and identity.
Attitudes never become part of us accidentally. We are not born with them, but they are the result of a progressive creation we have willfully fed. They might have been prompted by society or perhaps triggered by a third party, but ultimately they are the product of our individuality.
As much as the formation of attitudes depends on us, once we accept them they have the power to form or deform our very character. Attitudes are like molds. They have the power to shape us.
Specific attitudes are often related to a definite object. When the triggering object is not present the attitude might be latent, but the moment the object returns the attitude is revived and the person’s actions or reactions become conditioned by it. The only thing that can make us free at this point would be a change of attitude. Using the words of Paul we can say, a mental transformation is possible since our mind can be renewed (Romans 12:2). But this demands humility and a certain amount of spiritual perception.
Our attitude towards trials
How do we face tribulations, trials or difficulties? Do we get impatient, frustrated and discouraged, thinking that such ill fortunes should never be part of our life? Do they have the power to demoralize us, leading our soul to the periphery of depression and misery? Do we look at them as enemies attempting to destroy our peace and happiness? Or can we say, with the apostle Paul in Romans 5:3-4, that “we also glory in tribulation, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope?”
Could it be that a large percentage of evangelical Christians prefer to avoid tribulations altogether, seeing little meaning or value in them? Our attitude towards tribulations will determine the way we are going to face them. Paul and Silas were able to sing in prison because their mind had been renewed (Acts 16:25). It had passed from worldliness to heavenliness. It had experienced a demolition leading to a reconstruction. So they were rejoicing and praising God where many of us would have been depressed and disorientated.
Revising our attitudes: Knowing the truth
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
Attempting to revise our attitudes while conforming to this world is an undertaking that has little chance of success, because the worldview of our society opposes the one held by God. They are not only different; they are in opposition to each other.
We have seen how the attitude Paul had towards tribulations was related to knowledge. He knew tribulation produced perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope (Romans 5:3,4). He was not talking about mere Christian information, nor was he referring to theological data. Paul was making reference to what he knew by revelation.
Nothing can take the place of this sort of knowledge. One might have graduated from three bible schools and yet curse any tribulation coming his way. It is so because human information bears little on our conduct. In contrast, the knowledge coming from above exposes and challenges our character. It calls into question some of our attitudes and provokes revisions. In the long term it has the power to beautify our character.
Writing to the Colossians Paul says: “I now rejoice in my suffering for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24). Here we see the attitude the apostle had towards suffering: he rejoiced in it.
Peter had the same attitude. In his first epistle he writes: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12,13).
Let God transform your attitudes
These men had fellowship with the One whose attitudes express beauty and perfection. They were, with unveiled faces, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, and were thus transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18). This is glory and exalted beauty.
As you grow closer to God, seek out ways in which He is trying to transform your attitudes. Whether it is through trials and tribulations that cause you to be humble and lean on Him, or through seasons of plenty that give you the opportunity to bless others, be attentive to God’s hand and the working of the Spirit in your life
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