When we see a young child proudly strutting around or acting arrogantly, we sometimes make the comment that the child has “attitude.” It is often seen as a negative trait, but I think it is neither positive or negative. According to the dictionary, the word “attitude” means “an internal position or feeling with regard to something else.” Other words often used as synonyms are: “disposition, feeling, mood, opinion, sentiment, temper, tone, perspective, frame of mind, outlook, view, or morale.”
Now the word “attitude” has many other meanings. Airplane pilots often use “attitude” to describe their horizontal relationship with the runway then they land. If their attitude isn’t aligned properly, the plane will make contact with the ground at the wrong angle and it will cause them to crash.
In context with our lives, our attitude is our inward disposition toward other things, such as people or circumstances. As in with an airplane, attitude is applied whenever you must deal with something other than yourself. According to the Bible, when you become a Christian, a part of your new creation is the development of new attitudes. Romans 12:2 tells us that we will experience a “renewing of your mind.” This is where transformation occurs as we spend time in God’s Word and allow the Holy Spirit to mould us into the image of Christ. Philippians 2:5 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus,” again a reference to having the mind and perspective of Jesus.
For change to happen, it requires us to turn away from our former life and put on the “new life” available in Christ. Ephesians 4:22 says, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off the old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds.”
If changing our attitude is important, we need to recognize those attitudes in us that are not God-honouring. Most of us can easily identify bad attitudes when they are displayed outwardly in our words or actions, such a negativeness, criticalness, rebellion, defiance, impatience, uncooperative, apathy, discouragement, independence, presumption, arrogance, self-centeredness, rudeness and the such.
These are examples of bad attitudes which Christians should reject. However, we need to keep in mind that our attitudes are inner temperaments of the heart and thoughts; they are the hidden intentions which will eventually serve as the basis for our actions. Solomon understood this when he said in Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” In reality, no one else really knows the thoughts of your heart, except you and God. Consequently, attitude is something that only you and God can work out — a change which must take place inwardly.
I read a story about a man named George Brown. He was an example of a bad attitude. George went to church cheerfully as long as his business continued to prosper – as long as everything went well for him. He sang joyfully in the choir, he rarely missed a service. But when hard times set in George began to drop away. He became resentful toward God, even critical of other Christians. I don’t think George is alone in how his attitude is affected by his circumstances. Many of us have experienced in our own lives, the tension of wavering in our faith when things go awry.
The right attitude to have when difficulty comes is to persevere in faith and draw nearer to God – to fall at the feet of Jesus. Instead, many of us tend to run away. But when we understand what the Bible says about God working all things together for our good when we love Him, and the testing of our faith is for our benefit, we learn to trust Him even through the most difficult trials. In the end, trouble will never defeat the person with a right attitude.
According to the Scriptures, your attitude toward life, your circumstances, or toward other people should always be like the Lord’s. In Galatians 5:22-23 we find the list of the “fruit of the Spirit.” There we read about “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Having these “fruit” in our lives helps us in how we approach and handle adversity.
Attitude affects everything. In the end, our attitude towards God should be reverence, submission, love, trust, humility, obedience, worshipful and prayerful. Towards one another, our attitude should be founded on love, forgiveness, consideration, caring, encouragement, kindness, humility, unselfishness, respectful, and impartial.
Towards authority, we should be respectful, cooperative, accountable, humble, helpful, encouraging, loyal. We shouldn’t be resentful, defiant or disrespectful towards those whom God has placed over us (Romans 13). And in the most difficult circumstances, we should have an attitude of patience, thankfulness, persevering, and trusting.
In the end, our attitude affects everything in life. So how do we develop good attitudes? Firstly, I think it is important to identify and repent of any bad habits we discover in our lives. Acts 8:22 says, “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.”
Secondly, we need to submit our attitudes to God. That means we need to bring our attitudes into obedience to God’s Word. It is hard, but in order to do that, we need to apply discipline to our thought life and bring it into subjection of Jesus. A good attitude is a matter of faith, acknowledging your feelings, but with a determination to embrace God’s outlook and disposition. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…”
Lastly, we need to feed our attitudes with the right “food.” In our oversaturated world, we are inundated with information all the time. Not all the things we read or see are “bad” but they can distract us from spending time and energy on what really matters. We need to dwell on the things that God’s Word tells us to; the good and virtuous things. If you dwell on the negative, your attitude will reflect the same.
Philippians 4:8 tells us, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things.”
We all know how draining spending time with people with bad attitudes can be. As followers of Christ, we are called to live lives contrary to those without hope. I want to encourage all of us to seek the things God desires; things that will help us to see the good, the right, the noble and lovely; things which will lead to actions that will demonstrate the love and grace of God. When our attitude changes, so will our lives.