Sometimes We Need a Good Look in the Mirror

We have decided to revamp our wardrobe, not just in a physical sense, but in a spiritual sense as well.  We are spring cleaning our hearts and minds.  Here is an item that we often tend to forget about in our physical wardrobe: when is comes to our white clothing, is our white clothing still white? Often when we  put a white jacket on a white shirt, it will show us what is looking more grey or yellow with age.

In a spiritual sense, here is one aspect of ourselves that needs to be compared on a biblical standard of white, to show us what is wrong with it.  Our attitudes.

We hear people say: “But they are Christians; they are not supposed to behave like that!”  Cannot tell how many times I have heard that statement, both from believers and non-believers. Most of the time, I agree with them.  Christians are not always a good example, they probably should know better, but in the end, despite being redeemed, are still prone to a sinful nature.  Each of us, needs a revamp with the help of the Holy Spirit, and nowhere is it more evident, than in some of the attitudes we hold onto, which originate in our old life.

Many a believer will focus on actions rather than attitude.  Yet attitudes from our previous life are so part of the way we were that we don’t always realise they are wrong.

Many of our attitudes come from a world that encourages self care, self promotion and attitudes that promote pleasure, welfare and advantage.  Our world is self focused and often does not frown on selfish behavior, but instead promotes it. It is not wrong to “look out for number one;” or “take care of yourself.”

So as our world becomes more self focused, selfishness is defined as being concerned or exclusively focused on one’s self with no regard for the feelings or needs of others.

Nowhere does this condition display itself more, than in our attitudes.

It is often these very same attitudes that discourage younger believers and do not set a good example.  It is our attitudes that blow a hole in our testimony as believers and representing Christ on earth.  In  1 Cor 10:23-24 we are told:

“Everything is permissible” – but not everything is beneficial.

“Everything is permissible” – but not everything is constructive.

Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

Paul gives good advice here: There may essentially be nothing wrong with our attitudes and what we are doing, or saying, but we should always try to be gracious and sensitive.  This is because our attitudes are not always beneficial or constructive to younger believers

Paul implores us “whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31) And then warns in verse 32 “Do not cause anyone to stumble.”

God’s love for people is to be the determining factor in how we treat others, “seeking the good of many.” (1 Cor 10:33)

Living a life that says : “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Cor 11:1)

While we are cleaning out our spiritual wardrobe, is there anything in the “attitude clothing” we wear that is not beneficial or constructive towards younger believers. Often we don’t notice that our attitude does not have these qualities, we are so used to wearing the attitude that it is just a part of our wardrobe.  Some of our attitudes have as their source previous hurts and the attitudes we developed in the old life.  They are so a part of who we used to be, that we have not yet identified that they are attitudes that need to go and do not fit in with the new person we are in Christ.

mind the attitudeSo as an exercise, here are attitudes which we embrace that do more damage to our example and life, than promote the good of many people who are watching us.

Here are my top ten attitudes I have observed in people, that could do with a makeover:

  1. I’m looking out for Number One, or ME First: where we are generally insensitive and doing whatever we like and the “people must deal with it.”
  2. Then there is the oversensitive attitude, these are people who won’t get involved in anything or anyone because “you hurt me,” or “disappointed me” and “I don’t want to expose myself to that.”
  3. Closely followed by the “I don’t want to ruffle any feathers”  person. “Since I would hate it, if you were disappointed in me or displeased in any way.”  So to be safe, this person won’t get involved: “It’s just safer that way.”
  4. Then there is the YES person, who will go along with everybody, do whatever is necessary – the real motive being to gain the approval and love of people, rather than God.  But sometimes yes to everything is destructive rather than beneficial to an individual or a group.
  5. Don’t forget the demanding attitude – the one that says: “My way or no way!”  “My idea is best;” “my opinion stays;” or “my plans are to be followed.”
  6. The Self service attitude – “If I do this for you, will you do this for me.”  This person is only willing if there is some personal benefit to themselves.
  7. The Princess attitude– “Why are you not helping me achieve my goals?”  A belief that all people are available to help them achieve their personal agenda.
  8. Reverse Ubuntu  attitude– “You are here for my benefit” as opposed to “my good is determined by the common good.”
  9. The “do what I can” attitude – “I did what I could, so be happy with that, I wash my hands.”  The limits are set, the boundaries often limiting.
  10. The “Just leave me” attitude – “Just leave me alone, I don’t want to get involved, don’t want to see, or hear, or understand, it would disturb my comfortable life.”

We don’t think these attitudes cause any harm, but they are a poor examples, are often self motivated and cause younger believers to stumble. 

Attitudes are caught rather than taught.  Younger believers  what how older believers treat others, which then shapes how they will treat people around them.  What is more, attitudes creep into our life and are often approved of by the people around us or the people we choose to surround ourselves with.  However, just because there is no criticism of our attitudes in the world around us, does not mean that they are right according to scripture.

Paul believed that love for others should be the characteristic of all believers and the right attitude they would carry was:

The Serving attitude: Seeking the Good of Others, “I will do what will be good for you.  Follow the example I am setting.” (1 Cor 10:33 and 11:1)

Love is the litmus test of an attitude.

Father, forgive me for all the times I have not considered how my attitude affects other people.  I have not considered whether my attitude causes a younger believer to stumble, or whether it is setting a good example.  I may in my opinion, think there is nothing wrong with my behavior, but others may find that it breaks them down and does not benefit their spiritual growth.  Help me Holy Spirit, to examine my day to day attitudes and if they consider the good of others and the spiritual growth of others that are watching me, or interacting with me.  I want to be a person that displays healthy, kind and constructive attitudes that others will want to embrace and make part of their character.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Examine the list of attitudes above and consider where you have seen these attitudes played out in the world around you.  In which situations are these attitudes common and what is the affect of these attitudes on other people?
  2. To determine if clothing is still white, we often put it alongside something which we know is white.  If love is to be the determining factor, or litmus test of an attitude, do your attitudes work for the good of others, or even set an example that other believers can follow?
  3. Have you reviewed your attitudes and the impact they have on people around you?  Ask the people around you what your attitudes communicate to them?  Do they set a good example?
  4. Attitudes can change the atmosphere in a room, the mindset of a group and the direction of a team.  What good attitudes can you promote verbally and physically that could change the world around you?  Come up with a list of things that you could do.
  5. Here is a challenge: go out and do something good for someone.  It has to be good for them and there is to be no benefit to yourself.

Next: Get Rid of Filthy Clothes

Previous: Spring Cleaning My Spiritual Closet

Further Reading:

Who We Are In Christ

A Talent Is Not A Mina