“Your attitude should be the same at that of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
by Steven Clark Goad
Chiropractors would give us adjustments now and then. They probed and poked and pushed and pressed until our spines would crackle. We were told our spines had to be aligned for proper health. Working in a health club I soon realized that a half-hour after the adjustment the spine could be “popped” again. Sort of like popping your knuckles. The manipulation felt good but I have gotten along just fine without my weekly tweaking of the “subluksation of the lower lumbar region” or some other such malady needing continual attention.
Something most of us need now and then are attitude adjustments. From the very beginning of our adventure with God we have needed to be reminded that our attitude determines our altitude. God warned Cain early on. “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?” said He (Genesis 4:6). The nemesis of anger can fuel fires that seem to last forever. Uncontrollable outburts can leave memories of us that cling to the minds of those watching. Once that anger is displayed people will think we’re temperamental. Beware!
Anxiety is an attitude that needs constant monitoring. It has been said by those in the know that 95% of the things we worry about never occur. What is so debilitating about being anxious is that it displays a patent lack of trust in God. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6,7). Wow! That is the kind of attitude adjustment we all need. God was in charge before we got here. Let him be in charge now.
Bad attitudes lead to bad decisions. Remember the grumbling that took place at the foot of the mountain when Moses was in conference with God at Sinai? The people were distraught. The more they grumbled the more they wept. “If only we had died in Egypt” (Numbers 14:2). They were nearer to God than they deserved and all they could do was bellyache. “We had garlic in Egypt. We had places to sleep in Egypt. We had safety in Egypt. Let’s depose Moses and head back to Egypt.” If anyone needed an attitude adjustment, it was Israel.
Trusting God to guide us is the best attitude we can possibly have. “Whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe” (Proverbs 29:25). But this is a hard lesson to learn for some folk. When we forget that the Lord is in charge and that nothing can truly harm us but our lack of faith, it is then we can rejoice in the Lord and the strength of his power. “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the field produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:17,18).
There is no place for pride in our attitudes. Jesus taught, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). It’s the gentle heart we admire. We cherish the friendship of those who have their negative emotions under control. The meek and mild are rarely weak and wild. They are attempting to allow God control of their behavior and to give them positive attitudes about life. If they/we can control our temperaments, then we can control the verities of life that make our probation time on the planet tolerable. This is merely temporary residence. Eternity is forever.
Her name was Emily. She had a perpetual smile. I was amazed at her ability to maintain her positive outlook in the midst of trying circumstances. She had a gentle spirit. When I was around her I also smiled. She actually accepted Paul’s charge to “rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near”(Philippians 4:4). She sensed God’s proximity. When I was with her, I felt closer to God as well. Emily had more pain and hardship than most. Yet her amazing attitude of courage and joy in the middle of affliction was a powerful influence on others.
Paul knew what it was like to live with daily pressures that often seemed unmanageable. Yet he persevered. It was Paul who wrote, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). How can one be down-cast when he realizes he is just a heartbeat from stepping into a room full of angels? "If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body” (Philippians 1:22-24). Have we this attitude? Are we eager to keep on living so we may work for our Lord?
We can’t have peace of mind while giving others a piece of our mind. If one is enjoying the promised peace that passes understanding, how can he live daily with the constant pressure of anxiety and hopelessness? It is counterpro-ductive to the mission God has given us. We are not attractive to those who seek that spiritual dimension in their lives. We must be winsome to win some. How can an angry soul invite a distressed soul to come and worry with him? That is not the invitation our Lord offers. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28,29). Now that’s an attitude I can get my heart into.