an attitude grounded in faith

Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land,  for we can certainly do it.”

Numbers 13

Chuck Swindoll is definitely one of my all time favorite evangelical preachers and writers. A breath of fresh air. Here is something he wrote which speaks needed wisdom to me:

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. … The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it.

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One thing we can be certain of (click the link, “more”), we will face problems and adversity. That is a given. What isn’t certain is our response to them. Will we bail out? Will we endeavor to face them feeling overwhelmed and in the end completely worn out, so that we barely have enough to complete the task, or we do so gnashing our teeth in the process? Or do we acknowledge the reality, yet persist in the faith that God will be present, and will fulfill his promises to us in Jesus?

All Scripture is written for us (Romans 15:4). The account in Judges is challenging. Of the fourteen spies Moses sent in to give a report on the land, only Joshua and Caleb had faith in God and God’s word. The inhabitants there looked formidable, but their response was not to give into their fears, but press forward, and take the land, since God had both promised and commanded it.

What about us? What about me? Am I allowing myself to live overwhelmed over everything at hand, along with other looming issues, so that there’s barely enough strength, if that, to get through the course of a day? Or am I trusting in the God who fulfills all his promises to his people in and through Jesus, so that my main concern is holding on to faith, and being faithful?

Attitude. Not about believing in myself, but believing in the God who calls us, sends us, and equips us for the mission he gives us in and through Jesus.

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rooting out bitterness

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Hebrews 12

We have all been hurt, sometimes in life-altering ways. And too often in ways we learn to live with in not such a good way. I think of those molested in childhood, others who have suffered physical or emotional abuse. Words inflict injury as well. James tells us that the tongue is a world of evil. Like a serpent, full of deadly poison (James 3). We carry around with us wounds, which hopefully are largely healed, or in the process of healing. But if not, can perpetuate a cycle of harm. “Hurt people hurt people.”

Oftentimes it seems that this root called bitterness plays out in people finding something wrong, something amiss and off, quick to judge others. And even when such judgments might be either largely or partially true, there is a poison in the air, which inflicts those around them. I think of what should be called gossip, or perhaps better, not putting the best construction on what’s being said or done. And unless we refuse to participate in such, we are taken in, and the problem can grow. It is sad when we can see that is where some people live. And yet we can have more of that in ourselves than we might imagine.

The text above tells us not just to look after ourselves, although that is surely where it must start. But we in Jesus, in the church need to look out for each other, as well. That means we have to guard our tongues to be sure, and work at guarding our hearts. We have to love others, including those who seem on a one track existence due to their bitterness. We all need help along the way, sometimes special help. The goal would be to root out the bitterness, get rid of that poisonous root. Otherwise it is sure to defile others, perhaps many.

Basics like prayer and loving counsel and repentance, and continuing to work against this, seem to be essential. And what is needed in all of this is an emphasis on grace (again, note the text above), no less than an air of grace in which we are careful to consider our actions, words, and what underlies that, our thoughts and attitudes. There is no other way of together following the way of Jesus.

 

attitude

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.

Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

Colossians 3:22-4:1

Yesterday Jeff Manion spoke on our attitude when it comes to our work. Well worth the (view and) listen. I was thinking about that in terms not only of our work, which is powerful and thought provoking in itself, but in our attitudes across the board in all of life. We meet pressures with accompanying stress throughout our lives. Sometimes our sense of fairness and justice has been pummeled, and this is especially difficult when it makes life more difficult for us. Of course in Jesus we always have God to fall back on, and God’s grace in Jesus.

Paul addressing masters and slaves in his day, had nothing at all to do with accepting that institution, in fact we find the seeds for its destruction in this very same letter (3:11), and especially pronounced in the book of Philemon. He was simply dealing with life as it was. Ironically, because of the inherent injustice of such an arrangement, I think arguably that is helpful for us when we encounter what we perceive is not right or good, along the way. By the way, the slavery in that day at least to a large degree involved indentured service, so that those who had lost everything they had, used this recourse to survive, and even do relatively well in life. Just a sidenote.

Attitude, it’s all about attitude. Am I doing whatever I do for the Lord, so that whatever I am doing is sacred, set apart to him? And not just in the actual works, but in the attitude behind them. This may seem not so hard when everything is normal, and going well. But our mettle is tested when we seem to be violated. What then is our recourse, and what tact should we take?

We can always make our appeal and try to follow through until there is nothing more we can do, or it seems best to let it go, depending on the issue. Above all, people need to see the difference Christ makes in our lives. Do our actions speak well for him, put him in a good light, and show the difference he makes? Or are we no different than the world, flying off the handle, and saying something we later need to take back. It’s always better when we apologize and make it clear that we were wrong. But far better yet, is to avoid such wrong in the first place.

Prayer, and continuing to do what is right and good and loving is key. And continuing to do so, even when it seems to make no sense, and every bone in our body wants to do otherwise. We need to step back and be quiet, or speak more softly, and tone it down. And above all, commit ourselves to God, to his grace to us in Christ. Knowing that God will see us through and work out everything for our good, as we pray for the same blessing and good to others.

attitude check

We say so and so has an attitude. That can mean all sorts of things, but it’s often like the elephant in the room which everyone ignores and pretends doesn’t exist. But all too often we can be drawn in and end up having an attitude ourselves. Jesus warned against the attitude of rolling one’s eyes, speaking lightly of another or in the grip of anger cursing someone in one of the worst possible ways of one’s culture, or maybe even in a “Christian” manner, cutting them down.

There are times when I need an attitude check. I may well be right in the limited way we humans can be, but all too often I am not entirely right myself in reaction to the person or issue that seems off. It is hard to know when to speak up and hopefully gently challenge something or someone, and when to be silent. Most of the time I think we do well to err on the side of silence and grace, resorting to prayer. And most of all, we do well to avoid an attitude in which we often descend to the same level of that which we are reacting to.

I may need a time apart, even if brief (if possible) and certainly prayer lifted up to God to confess my sin, what is wrong in my attitude, and maybe even to the person, if need be. Perhaps at least taking something back, or moderating what I said earlier.

Interestingly when this is done, we then see much more clearly. All too often a judgmental attitude colors what we see, so that we don’t see clearly enough. We need to judge ourselves first before we can see well enough to possibly help another with their problem. Always in much grace and love, along with the wisdom we need in this from God.

And so we need the Lord’s help, his light on ourselves as together in Jesus we seek to live out his love and truth with each other and for the world.

an attitude check

I am thankful for God’s grace and forgiveness. Yesterday was a comedy of problems which in the end still did not work out exactly right with reference to what actually ought to be a rather minor house repair, so that I’m only done for now. I was frustrated to the nth degree, and was not what I should have been. No matter what, I want to stay the course in the way of the Lord. An attitude check, indeed.

Instead of practically speaking, calling down curses on a situation, I need to take problems immediately to the Lord and commit my way to him. Yes, in all my weakness, and at times even sin. Not that we can imagine we can be sinless in this life. We need to be aware more than anything else of our need of God’s grace. That grace both forgives, restores, and actually is our only hope of living in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.

And so hopefully, I’ll learn from this if nothing more, my need to seek to continue to draw near and walk closely with the Lord, no matter what the situation.  It is easy to become despondent and lose heart. But it is God in his faithfulness to us in Jesus who keeps us keeping on. Together with others in Jesus for the world.

projecting on others

How we look at others and how we perceive others look at us is important. We’re to love God first, and then love our neighbor as ourselves. But we can heap on others what we would never want to receive ourselves. Or we can be misjudged and ridiculed by others.

I have found that when I know I am disliked and judged that I tend to struggle to not see myself in that way when around such people. On the other hand when I am accepted and loved for who I am, with my foibles and sins, I seem more open to God’s grace to receive forgiveness and accept his view of me in Jesus as his beloved.

There is no doubt that we struggle in this life in our attitudes at times. To identify the problem, they say, is half the battle, and there is truth in that.

Where we err is when we make any final judgments on others, as if somehow we are a cut above them. We ordinarily do this from a distance; we don’t really know the person. And even if we try to get close enough to understand them better, we do well to be slow in thinking we really know them.

Do we see others, including those we have a hard time liking, as loved by God? It is hard when we know that they don’t really know us. But there is a tendency in many of us to live down to what others think of us, instead of living up to what God thinks of us through Jesus.

We live according to what we think. Our focus is to be on Jesus, and in Jesus we’re to be becoming like him. That is especially true, together, in other words we’re to be growing up together in community in Jesus.

We need to ask God to help us see others with the Lord’s eyes, seeing ourselves in the same way. So that we can be people of grace and truth for each other, and for the world, people who are becoming more and more like Jesus.