“An attitude is a disposition of the mind or emotions. Attitudes are expressed in a number of ways: the way one says something, the expression on one’s face (Genesis 4:6), one’s silence, one’s body language, and one’s behavior. One’s entire presence conveys an ‘attitude’. You don’t have to come right out and say what you feel. You end up communicating your pleasure or displeasure, approval or disproval, in a dozen different ways. A ‘bad’ attitude is one that approaches something or someone with a perspective that is not biblical. The focus of the person with a bad attitude is on the circumstance he or she is responding to, not on the Lord” (The Snare, Lois Mowday Rabey, pp. 55-56). People who opt for attitudes that conflict with the Scriptures, end up: 1. Shifting blame. 2. Being shortsighted. They can live for the moment without much regard for what preceded the moment, or what the consequences of the moment will be. 3. Being masters of rationalizing sinful behavior. No wonder Solomon said,“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
Apathy: Revelation 3:15-16
“The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: 15'I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. 16'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17'Because you say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked”. Apathy is when we do not seem to care, and when this happens we are not motivated to protect ourselves from sin. Apathy is inexcusable, for everything around us is anything but apathetic. The devil wants to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8-9). Multitudes are lost in sin; people are dying everyday outside of Christ, millions are on the road to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). So much work needs to be done (John 4:35). Jesus could come at any time, and we will be judged for everything we said and did or did not say and did not do (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Corinthians 5:10; James 4:17). We are always merely one breath away from eternity and a destiny that cannot be changed following our death (James 4:13-14; Hebrews 9:27; Luke 16:26). We have made some powerful enemies in high places that would love to see us suffer for eternity and everyday our battle is against them (Ephesians 6:10-12). It is a myth to believe that you get along with everyone, have no enemies, no cares, no worries and that nothing really matters. I have found in life that God has a providential way of making people who are apathetic about God, His word, truth, and so on, face up to their apathy. Just about the time you say, “I do not get bothered too much”, watch out, something that really bothers you might just be on the way.
“I am bored”. He has a room full of action figures, video games, cable TV, a VCR, interactive CD-ROM virtual-reality simulators, and a fully loaded computer with Internet access. But he does not have anything to do. Boredom is more than an irritation in child raising. It has been called a major spiritual problem, one that is particularly characteristic of our time. Boredom is often the motivation for adultery (2 Samuel 11) and divorce, abuse of alcohol or drugs, and even suicide. The ancient moralists associated boredom with sloth considering it a form of spiritual laziness, an ungrateful lack of interest in what God has ordained. Boredom is a chronic symptom of a pleasure-obsessed age. When pleasure becomes one’s number one priority, the result, ironically, is boredom”. It is interesting to notice that boredom never seemed to be a problem for Jesus and His disciples. There is no place where we can see Paul bored and looking for a way out of his lethargy. As noted above, one cure for boredom is to realize that this universe could end at any minute (2 Peter 3:9-10). Boredom is a temptation when life is comfortable and we have so many options and free time. Maybe reading the Bible would be more meaningful if such was outlawed. Maybe simple periods of worship would take on a new richness, if we were being tortured and persecuted for our faith (Hebrews 11:35-40). Surely, persecuted believers in other countries would love to trade places with a Christian who is “bored”. One writer noted that we all daydream. “There is nothing wrong with mentally picturing yourself in a situation that you would like to see happen. But instead of imagining something you should not think about, imagine yourself in a godly situation” (p. 91) (Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 4:8). Someone noted that they went to hear a lesson on the topic of the “Secret of Godly Living”, and everyone sat anxiously with pen in hand. “I will never forget the initial letdown when he began by telling the group that he had nothing new to say; that we had all heard it before. Read the Word, pray, associate with other Christians. What more can be said? The thing now is to do them!”(p. 187). The last thing we feel like doing when we are depressed or in the middle of a negative thought pattern is to read the Bible. After all, we know what is says. Too many people want to feel good either right now or all the time. Or, we want the easy way out, that is, a lesson that will take all the work and effort out of being a Christian. Being a Christian is first about obedience(John 14:15), and then the feelings or rewards will come with time. One of the easiest ways to break the pattern of boredom is to approach someone else and share the gospel with them.
Selfishness: Philippians 2:3-5
We are surrounded by the all-consuming worship of self. Solomon observed, “A sated (satisfied or well fed) man loathes honey, but to a famished man any bitter thing is sweet” (Proverbs 27:7). “Have you found honey? Eat only what you need, lest you have it in excess and vomit it” (Proverbs 25:16). “In other words, pleasant sensations when they are overdone lose their appeal, while desire can make even bad things seem attractive. These Scriptures suggest that there is a law of diminishing returns when it comes to pleasure. The more we seek pleasure for its own sake, the less we will have it. What once gives pleasure must become more and more extreme to yield the desired sensation. “Since Eden, man has wanted the last ounce out of life, as though beyond God’s ‘enough’ lay ecstasy, not nausea” (Proverbs p. 159). Jesus said, “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:26). That is, the more that you place yourself first, the more that you serve selfish pleasures in your attempt to find life, the more that real life will elude your grasp. One writer noted, “Those (outside of Christ) who have achieved great wealth and prestige in a material sense are almost 100 percent guaranteed to be bored. Over and over we read of wealthy and prominent families who have been faced with a member of the family who has done something incredibly stupid, or tragic, and the explanation for the irrational act is that the person was bored and did the act for kicks”. Solomon would agree with the above quotation, for after a lifetime of physical pursuits, he found that his life was meaningless, “Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done…and behold all was vanity and striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:11).
Pride: 1 John 2:16 “the boastful pride of life”
“Pride is the prince of bad attitudes. It is often the preamble to disaster (“Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, but humility goes before honor” Proverbs 18:12). When we are full of pride, we feel exempt. We feel above others and in total control of our lives. When we are suffering from pride, we feel we can do just about anything and get away with it. We act as if we are not under God’s authority” (The Snare. pp. 59-60).
Daniel 4:28-32 "All this happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king. 29"Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. 30"The king reflected and said, 'Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?' 31"While the word was in the king's mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, 'King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, 32and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes”.
Concerning the recent visit of the Dalai Lama, some things should really concern those who have a healthy respect for God. According to the Oregonian Newspaper he said, “Even without religious faith, you can be a happy person”. The problem with this is that without faith a person cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6). He placed compassion, tolerance, and kindness on a level superior to a faith in God, that is, one can be happy without faith, but not happy with the others. Yet, faith is the foundation for true compassion, tolerance, and kindness (2 Peter 1:5ff). He called compassion, tolerance, and kindness “basic human good qualities”, as if such qualities originated from us, and not from God. Jesus said, “apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5),and Paul said, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). In contrast, this speaker said, “You should have self-confidence on the basis of your great potential”. One man who attended the conference said, “I don’t want him to save me”. Pride can make us think that we have a right to invent or create our own religion, that is, the old temptation presented in the garden, “You will be like God, knowing good and evil”, that is, you can determine right and wrong on your own, from our own internal value system. You do not need someone telling you what to do; you can issue and obey your own commands, commands to your own liking and preference. You do not have to depend upon God for wisdom, protection, help, significance, or permission.
Jealousy: 1 Samuel 18:7-9
Happy is the person who is content with what they already have! Jealousy is so easy to fall into, especially when someone seems to upstage us, but compared to God we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). Compared to God, no one is really that cool or popular. Instead of envying what other people have, seek to become more like the ultimate role model and standard (Matthew 5:48), get your eyes off of fallible human beings and upon Jesus Christ.
“One of Satan’s greatest lies is that we have no hope. Belief in this lie can result in debilitating discouragement. And when we are discouraged, what does anything matter? We may come to feel we have nothing to lose because we have already seemingly lost everything. When we are discouraged and nothing at the moment seems to matter, something that truly matters a lot may look irrelevant. What is immorality or some other sin in the face of a life in shambles for any number of reasons? Our reasoning becomes clouded with comparisons. Compared to the mess we may be in, sin looks inconsequential” (The Snare. p. 59). Yet, everything does matter, even one careless word! (Matthew 12:36). Anytime we read about God judging us according to our works, do not get discouraged, rather, such a judgment shouts, “Everyone matters! Everything we do matters! I am important! And what I do or do not do is very important!” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/503-644-9017