Some Good Attitudes
Attitude is simply defined as, "Manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., toward a person or thing" (Random House College Dictionary). Our attitudes or how we view or think about a matter largely determine how we respond and what we are as individuals. A person with great ability can still be a failure if they lack a good attitude. The Wise Man discussed attitude when he wrote, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Prov. 4: 23). Again, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he " (Prov. 23: 7). A good attitude, then, is a prerequisite to any successful pursuit, including our service to God. In view of the importance of a good attitude, let us now consider some Bible examples of exemplary attitudes.
Abraham's attitude toward the commandments of God. We can view Abraham's attitude by the way he responded to God's directives. For instance, "Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee" (Gen. 12: 1). God making Abram a "great nation" was contingent on Abram obeying God (vs. 2, 3). After God issued the commandment, we read thus of Abram, "So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him " (vs. 4). Abram did not argue or seek to bargain with the Lord, he simply did what God told him to do. This good attitude that resulted in doing God's will is what the Bible calls saving faith. Over two thousand years later we read the following of Abraham:
"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went" (Heb. 11: 8).
We might not always have total understanding of why a particular command is issued, but, like Abraham, we accept and obey what God tells us in his word.
Joseph's attitude toward forgiving brethren. Forgiving others when they sin against us is required if we expect to enjoy God's forgiveness of our sins against him (Matt. 6: 14, 15). Joseph was terribly sinned against by his brothers (Gen. 37ff.). At first, Joseph's brothers anticipated that "Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him" (Gen. 50: 15). When they sought his forgiveness, Joseph eagerly forgave them (Gen. 50: 17-21). Joseph's forgiveness is seen in his statement, "Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them" (Gen. 50: 21, cp. 45: 1ff.).
We see in Joseph a man who had been unbelievably mistreated, and, yet, he freely forgave those who had so sinned against him. Joseph's good attitude, I submit, is the reason Joseph forgave. Joseph could have done as so many and died a bitter old man, engulfed in his resentment, but he elected to manifest the attitude of forgiveness (cp. Gen. 50: 22-26).
Moses' attitude toward suffering. While Moses is not without flaw, he is presented in scripture as a type of Jesus (Deut. 18: 18, 19 cp. Acts 3: 22, 23). Moses is found in the faith chapter of the New Testament and regarding him it is said:
"By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season" (Heb. 11: 24, 25).
God tells us that all shall suffer persecution. "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution," wrote Paul (2 Tim. 3: 15). Service to God is so substantive, however, that the one suffering for the sake of righteousness can actually be "happy" (I Pet. 4: 14).
The attitude of the Psalmist relative to false ways. Real conviction is always seen in the Bible as loving the truth and hating false ways. Hear the Psalmist and also notice the source of the truth:
"How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth. Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path .Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way" (Ps. 119: 103-105, 128).
It is difficult for Americans to appreciate the words of the Psalmist. "There is no right and wrong, only shades of gray," many believe. However, the scriptures irrefutably teach the converse (Rom. 12: 9).
Jeremiah's attitude toward the word of God. His own people had shamefully mistreated Jeremiah because he had faithfully taught them the word of God. He became so tired of the abuse that he decided, "Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name " (Jere 20: 9). However, Jeremiah had real conviction. "But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones," we read, "and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay" (Jere. 20: 9).
Jeremiah is an example for preachers today who are also to, "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Tim. 4: 2). The faithful preacher will determinedly preach the word, live the word, and apply the word (Ezra 7: 10).
The position of Daniel concerning prayer. Because of the excellent traits that Daniel possessed, he excelled even in a pagan country and was promoted (Dan. 1ff.). As expected, there were those who resented the superior abilities of Daniel. They tried their best to find fault with Daniel and when not a scintilla of flaw could be found, they devised a plan. Their plan involved taking advantage of Daniel's qualities. They were able to manipulate the King into legislating against prayer to any object or being other than himself, knowing that Daniel would be faithful to his God (Dan. 6: 7). Daniel was indeed true to the God of heaven and refused to cease prayer to God or to worship idols. We read of Daniel:
"Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime" (Dan. 6: 10).
Daniel was punished, but through faith in God, he overcame (Dan. 6-12). The scriptures teach, "Pray without ceasing" and "men ought always to pray, and not to faint" (Lk. 18: 1). Prayer is too often a neglected privilege belonging to God's people.
The attitude of the Berean's regarding the word of God. The word of God does not contain lavish instances of commendation. Therefore, when there are those commended, it is worthy of note. We read thus regarding the Bereans:
"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17: 11).
These people did not simply accept what Paul and Silas taught, but they demanded proof. They also realized that the scriptures were the source of authority and means of establishing truth. John later wrote, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (I Jn. 4: 1).
Beloved, in the case of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, the Psalmist, Jeremiah, Daniel, and the Bereans, they were what they were and accomplished what they did primarily because of their attitude. Attitude is causative, either for good or evil. As we saw, "As he thinketh in his heart, so is he " (Prov. 23: 7). Therefore, it should be our goal to form basic attitudes that will be conducive to good and making us the kind of people whom God desires to serve him. Attitudes that involve a good posture toward God's commandments, forgiving, false ways and the truth, toward the word, prayer, and authority in religion should be our goal.