“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5)
Attitudes are our disposition towards someone or something. Our attitudes affect our character and relationships.
Attitudes are important; they can either make a person or break him. Some years back a research was done on job interviewees who were successful in getting a job. The research revealed that the majority of those who got the jobs got them not because they were smart but because they had a right attitude.
The Bible teaches us that God wants us to have the attitude of Christ. He left for us an example of how we must look at and treat our fellowmen, our children, our elders, and God.
Jude 10-11 lists three kinds of attitudes that can destroy the life of any person.
Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals–these are the very things that destroy them. Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam‘s error; they have been destroyed in Korah‘s rebellion. (Jude 1:10-11)
The three destroyers are:
1. The Way of Cain. It is the attitude of selfishness, envy, and hatred against one’s brother. A person with this kind of attitude will never be happy at anyone else’ success. He would always desire his own praise despite his shortcomings and sins. He doesn’t look at the man whom God accepts as an example but looks at him as his enemy. King Saul was another example of a man with this attitude.
2. The Error of Balaam. The attitude of Balaam was materialistic and utilitarian. He even felt that God could change His mind, and when it seemed that God wouldn’t, he tried to corrupt Israel by introducing worldliness into their life. He was ruled by the love of money which is the root of all evil. Jesus said that a man cannot serve both God and Money. The rich young man couldn’t follow Jesus because he loved money. Balaam’s error lay in considering godliness as a means of gain. A mind dehumanized by money can never look at others as fellow-humans. It loses the love for neighbor and God.
3. The Rebellion of Korah. Korah’s was the attitude of pride. It was the Luciferic attitude. It is the I-am-better-than-thou attitude. Korah rebelled because he was not ready and willing to accept any God-appointed authority over his life.
Now, look at the attitude of Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross! (Phil 2:6-8)
Attitude determines the formation of character, and character is what a person is. If suppose I asked someone who he is, he may reply by saying that he is related to so and so, or he is a teacher or an engineer or a doctor. But, God doesn’t look at a person in that manner. God looks at one’s character.
Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. (Psalm 51:6)
Character is something between God and the person. It is God who sees and judges. A few things need to be noted about character.
1. Education cannot build character. If it could then sin couldn’t co-exist with knowledge. Education can inform but cannot transform. If it could then why would people be smoking cigarrettes and chewing tobacco despite the warning that tobacco causes cancer, why would there be corruption among the police who are expected to know and protect the law, and why would there be winelovers among medical practitioners. King Solomon had so much knowledge but he couldn’t keep character.
2. Anointing cannot build character. If it could Lucifer wouldn’t have fallen. He was known as the anointed cherub (Eze 28). King Saul had the anointing but he lost his character.
3. Religion cannot build character. If it could the pharisees and sadducees wouldn’t have crucified Jesus. Jesus called them hypocrites. It was not the sinners and publicans who wanted Jesus crucified. It was the men with religious authority who didn’t have character.
In each case, attitude determined what one was.
If character is to be built there must be a change in the way of thinking; in our disposition. And the first in the line is the attitude of self-emptying, as Jesus did. One needs to humble himself before the Lord.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.
One must die to self, to the world, and to sin; or else, he can never be a follower of Christ. The attitude of total repentance is the beginning of forsaking the old and following the Lord. Unless the heart is broken because of the sin, repentance is not possible. A hardened heart is rebellious in nature. A repentant heart is reverent.
Secondly, the Bible teaches us that evil company corrupts good habits (1Cor. 15:33). It also says that “he who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed” (Pro.13:20). The Book of Psalms begins with warning us against wrong companionship; so also does the Book of Proverbs. Right attitudes are formed in the fellowship of the Master; right character is formed in the crucible of one’s walk with the Master.
Let us walk with a heart that is ready to repent from the wrong and committed to live and die for the Truth, a heart that continues to be transformed through the walk with Jesus.