“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” Winston Churchill
* Attitudes toward giving
The Bible does not say why God did not accept Cain’s sacrifice. Perhaps Cain’s attitudes were improper, or perhaps his offering was not up to God’s standards. God evaluates our attitudes in both our motives and the quality of what we offer him. When we give to God and others, our attitudes should be to have a joyful heart because of what we are able to give. We should not worry about how much we are giving up, for all things are God’s in the first place. Instead, we should have attitudes joyfully giving to God our best in time, money, possessions, and talents. (NLT)
Genesis 4:3-5 – At harvest-time Cain brought to the Lord a gift of his farm produce, while Abel brought several choice lambs from the best of his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his offering, but he did not accept Cain and his offering. Thus made Cain very angry and dejected.
* Many of the principles regarding sacrifices and tithes were intended to encourage inward attitudes as well as outward actions. If a person gives grudgingly, he shows that he has a stingy heart. God wants us to be cheerful givers, who give with gratitude to him. (NLT)
Leviticus 27:33 – The tenth animal must not be selected on the basis of whether it is good or bad, and no substitutions will be allowed. If any exchange is in fact made, then both the original animal and the substituted one will be considered holy and cannot be redeemed.”
* Cain’s attitude was wrong
Cain got angry. Furious. Both he and his brother Abel had given offerings to God, and his had been rejected. Cain’s reaction gives us a clue that his attitude was probably wrong from the start. Cain had a choice to make. He could correct his attitude about his offering to God, or he could take out his anger on his brother. His decision is a clear reminder of how often we are aware of opposite choices, yet choose the wrong just as Cain did. We may not be choosing to murder, but we are still intentionally choosing what we shouldn’t.
The feelings motivating our behavior can’t always be changed by simple thought-power. But here we can begin to experience God’s willingness to help. Asking for his help to do what is right can prevent us from setting into motion actions that we will later regret. (NLT)
Genesis 4:7 – “You will be accepted if you respond in the right way. But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it.”
* Attitudes of Joseph’s brothers were changed
Joseph wanted to see if his brothers’ attitudes had changed for the better, so he tested the way they treated each other Judah, the brother who had stepped forward with the plan to sell Joseph, now stepped forward to take Benjamin’s punishment so that Benjamin could return to their father. This courageous act convinced Joseph that his brothers had dramatically changed for the better. (NLT)
Genesis 44:33 – Please, my lord, let me stay here as a slave instead of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers.
* Attitude about approaching God
At God’s command, Moses removed his sandals and covered his face. Taking off his shoes was an act of reverence, conveying his own unworthiness before God. God is our friend, but he is also our sovereign Lord. To approach him frivolously shows a lack of respect and sincerity. When you come to God in worship, do you approach him casually, or do you come as though you were an invited guest before a king? If necessary, adjust your attitude so it is suitable for approaching a holy God. (NLT)
Exodus 3:5-6 – “Do not come any closer,” God told him. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your ancestors–the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. When Moses heard this, he hid his face in his hands because he was afraid to look at God.
* Having a positive attitude toward God
The people were hostile and despairing, but Moses encouraged them to watch the wonderful way God would rescue them. Moses had a positive attitude! When it looked as if they were trapped, Moses called upon God to intervene. We may not be chased by an army, but we may still feel trapped. Instead of giving in to despair, we should adopt Moses’ attitude to “stand where you are and watch the Lord rescue you.” (NLT)
Exodus 14:13-14 – But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand where you are and watch the Lord rescue you. The Egyptians that you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. You won’t have to life a finger in your defense!”
* Is your attitude more negative than positive?
God told the Israelites that the Promised Land was rich and fertile. Not only that, he promised that this bountiful land would be theirs. When the scouts reported back to Moses, they gave plenty of good reasons for entering the land, but they couldn’t stop focusing on their fear. Talk of giants (descendants of Anak) and fortified cities made it easy to forget about God’s promise to help. When facing a tough decision, don’t let the negatives cause you to lose sight of the positives. Weigh both sides carefully. Don’t let potential difficulties blind you to God’s power to help and his promise to guide. (NLT)
Numbers 13:25-29 – After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses, Aaron, and the people of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. This was their report to Moses: “We arrived in the land you sent us to see, and it is indeed a magnificent country–a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is some of its fruit as proof. But the people living there are powerful, and their cities and towns are fortified and very large. We also saw the descendants of Anak who are living there! The Amalekits live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country. The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan Valley.”
* Snowball effect of a negative attitude
Just one day after Korah and his followers were executed for grumbling and complaining against God, the Israelites started all over with more muttering and complaining. Their negative attitude only caused them to rebel even more and to bring about even greater trouble. It eroded their faith in God and encouraged thoughts of giving up and turning back. The path to open rebellion against God begins with dissatisfaction and skepticism, then moves to grumbling about both God and present circumstances. Next come bitterness and resentment, followed finally by rebellion and open hostility. If you are often dissatisfied, skeptical, complaining, or bitter–beware! These attitudes lead to rebellion and separation from God. Any choice to side against God is a step in the direction of letting go of him completely and making your own way through life. (NLT)
Numbers 16:41 – But the very next morning the whole community began muttering again against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You two have killed the Lord’s people!”
* God’s anger at Balaam’s greedy attitude
God let Balaam go with Balak’s messengers, but he was angry about Balaam’s greedy attitude. Balaam claimed that he would not go against God just for money, but his resolve was beginning to slip. His greed for the wealth offered by the king blinded him so that he could not see how God was trying to stop him. Though we may know what God wants us to do, we can become blinded by the desire for money, possessions, or prestige. We can avoid Balaam’s mistake by looking past the allure of fame or fortune to the long-range benefits of following God. (NLT)
Numbers 22:20-23 – That night God came to Balaam and told him, “Since these men have come for you, get up and go with them. But be sure to do only what I tell you to do.”
So the next morning Balaam saddled his donkey and started off with the Moabite officials. But God was furious that Balaam was going, so he sent the angel of the Lord to stand in the road to block his way. As Balaam and two servants were riding along, Balaam’s donkey suddenly saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand. The donkey bolted off the road into a field, but Balaam beat it and turned it back onto the road.
* Lashing out a sign of wrong attitudes
The donkey saved Balaam’s life but made him look foolish in the process, so Balaam lashed out at the donkey. We sometimes strike out at blameless people who get in our way because we are embarrassed or our pride is hurt. Lashing out at others can be a sign that something is wrong with us. Don’t allow your own hurt pride to lead you to hurt others. (NLT)
Numbers 22:29 – “Because you have made me look like a fool!” Balaam shouted. “If I had a sword with me, I would kill you!”
* Don’t conform your attitude to those of society
Micah and his mother seemed to be good and moral and may have sincerely desired to worship God, but they disobeyed God by following their own desires instead of doing what God wanted. The attitude that prevailed in Micah’s day was this: “The people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” This is remarkably similar to today’s prevailing attitudes. But God has given us standards. He has not left our conduct up to us and our opinions. We can avoid conforming to society’s low standards by taking God’s commands seriously and applying them to life. Independence and self-reliance are positive traits, but only within the framework of God’s standards. (NLT)
Judges 17:2 – One day he said to his mother, “I heard you curse the thief who stole eleven hundred pieces of silver from you. Well, here they are. I was the one who took them.”
* Attitude toward menial tasks
Ruth’s task, though menial, tiring, and perhaps degrading, was done faithfully. What is your attitude when the task you have been given is not up to your true potential? The task at hand may be all you can do, or it may be the work God wants you to do. Or, as in Ruth’s case, it may be a test of your character that can open up new doors of opportunity. (NLT)
Ruth 2:7 – She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been hard at work ever since, except for a few minutes’ rest over there in the shelter.
* Do you let others dictate your attitude?
Israel was called to be a holy nation, separate from and unique among all others. The Israelites’ motive in asking for a king was to be like the nations around them. This was in total opposition to God’s original plan. It was not their desire for a king that was wrong, but their reasons for wanting a king.
Often we let others’ values and actions dictate our attitudes and behavior. Have you ever made a wrong choice because you wanted to be like everyone else? Be careful that the values of your friends or “heroes” don’t pull you away from what God says is right. When God’s people want to be like unbelievers, they are heading for spiritual disaster. (NLT)
1 Samuel 8:19-20 – But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will govern us and lead us into battle.”
* Of always looking for good attitude in others
Saul had caused much trouble for David, but when he died, David composed a lament for the king and his son. David had every reason to hate Saul, but he chose not to. Instead, he chose to look at the good Saul had done and to ignore the times when Saul had attacked him. It takes courage to lay aside hatred and hurt and to respect the positive side of another person, especially an enemy. (NLT)
2 Samuel 1:17-27 – Then David composed a funeral song for Saul and Jonathan. Later he commanded that it be taught to all the people of Judah. It is known as the Song of the Bow, and it is recorded in The Book of Jashar.
Your pride and joy, O Israel, lies dead on the hills! How the mighty heroes have fallen! Don’t announce the news in Gath, or the Philistines will rejoice. Don’t proclaim it in the streets of Ashkelon, or the pagans will laugh in triumph.
O mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew or rain upon you or your slopes. For there the shield of the mighty was defiled; the shield of Saul will no longer be anointed with oil. Both Saul and Jonathan killed their strongest foes; they did not return from battle empty-handed.
How beloved and gracious were Saul and Jonathan! They were together in life and in death. They were swifter than eagles; they were stronger than lions.
O women of Israel, weep for Saul, for he dressed you in fine clothing and gold ornaments.
How the mighty heroes have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies dead upon the hills. How I weep for you, my brother Jonathan! Oh, how much I loved you! And your love for me was deep, deeper than the love of women!
How the mighty heroes have fallen! Stripped of their weapons, they lie dead.
* Effective living begins with right attitudes
Notice how the third captain went to Elijah. Although the first two captains called Elijah “man of God,” they were not being genuine–God was not in their hearts. The third captain also called him “man of God,” but he humbly begged for mercy. His attitude showed respect for God and his power and saved the lives of his men. Effective living begins with a right attitude toward God. Before religious words come to your mouth, make sure they are from your heart. Let respect, humility, and servant-hood characterize your attitude toward God and others. (NLT)
2 Kings 1:13-15 – Once more the king sent a captain with fifty men. But this time the captain fell to his knees before Elijah. He pleaded with him, “O man of God, please spare my life and the lives of these, your fifty servants. See how the fire from heaven has destroyed the first two groups. But now please spare my life!” Then the angel of the Lord said to Elijah, “Don’t be afraid. Go with him.” So Elijah got up and went to the king.
* Attitudes color our personality
Our attitudes color our whole personality. We cannot always choose what happens to us, but we can choose our attitude toward each situation. The secret to a happy heart is filling our mind with thoughts that are true, pure, and lovely, with thoughts that dwell on the good things in life. This was Paul’s secret as he faced imprisonment, and it can be ours as we face the struggles of daily living. Look at your attitudes and then examine what you allow to enter your mind and what you choose to dwell on. You may need to make some changes. (NLT)
Proverbs 15:15 – For the poor, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.
* Do your attitudes reflect values of the world or of Christ?
With Jesus’ announcement that the Kingdom was near, people were naturally asking, “How do I qualify to be in God’s Kingdom?” Jesus said that God’s Kingdom is organized differently from worldly kingdoms. In the Kingdom of Heaven, wealth and power and authority are unimportant. Kingdom people seek different blessings and benefits, and they have different attitudes. Are your attitudes a carbon copy of the world’s selfishness, pride, and lust for power, or do they reflect the humility and self-sacrifice of Jesus, your king? (NLT)
Matthew 5:3-12 – [Jesus said] “God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them. God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice, for they will receive it in full. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
“God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted, too.”
* Outward obedience without a change of heart
The Pharisees were exacting and scrupulous in their attempts to follow their laws. So how could Jesus reasonably call us to greater obedience than theirs? The Pharisees’ weakness was that they were content to obey the laws outwardly without allowing God to change their hearts (or attitudes). Jesus was saying, therefore, that the quality of our goodness should be greater than that of the Pharisees. They looked pious, but they were far from the Kingdom of Heaven. God judges our heart as well as our deeds, for it is in the heart that our real allegiance lies. Be just as concerned about your attitudes that people don’t see as about your actions that are seen by all. (NLT)
Matthew 5:20 – [Jesus said] “But I warn you–unless you obey God better than the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees do, you can’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all!”
* Slipping into skeptical attitudes
Jesus condemned the attitude of his generation. No matter what he said or did, they took the opposite view. They were cynical and skeptical because he challenged their comfortable, secure, and self-centered lives. Too often we justify our inconsistencies because listening to God may require us to change the way we live. (NLT)
Matthew 11:16-19 – [Jesus said] “I assure you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the most insignificant person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is! And from the time John the Baptist began preaching and baptizing until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people attack it. For before John came, all the teachings of the Scriptures looked forward to this present time. And if you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come. Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!
“How shall I describe this generation? These people are like a group of children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends, ‘We played wedding songs, and you weren’t happy, so we played funeral songs, but you weren’t sad.’ For John the Baptist didn’t drink wine and he often fasted, and you say, ‘He’s demon possessed.’ And I, the Son of Man, feast and drink, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of the worst sort of sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by what results from it.”
* Attitude must be consistent with actions
The prophet Isaiah also criticized hypocrites, and Jesus applied Isaiah’s words to these religious leaders. When we claim to honor God while our heart is far from him, our worship means nothing. It is not enough to act religious. Our actions and our attitudes must be sincere. If they are not, Isaiah’s words also describe us. (NLT)
Matthew 15:8-9 – [Jesus said] ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away. Their worship is a farce, for they replace God’s commands with their own man-made teachings.’
* Jesus exposed true attitudes of religious leaders
Already the Pharisees had turned against Jesus. They were jealous of his popularity, his miracles, and the authority in his teaching and actions. They valued their status in the community and their opportunity for personal gain so much that they lost sight of their goal as religious leaders–to point people toward God. Of all people, the Pharisees should have recognized the Messiah, but they refused to acknowledge him because they were not willing to give up their treasured position and power. When Jesus exposed their attitudes, he became their enemy instead of their Messiah, and they began looking for ways to turn the people against him. (NLT)
Mark 3:2 – Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. Would he heal the man’s hand on the Sabbath? If he did, they planned to condemn him.
* Developing new attitudes toward problems
Problems like this were often brought to rabbis for them to settle. Jesus’ response, though not directed to the topic, is not a change of subject. Rather, Jesus is pointing to a higher issue–a correct attitude toward the accumulation of wealth. Life is more than material goods; far more important is our relationship with God. Jesus put his finger on this questioner’s heart. When we bring problems to God in prayer, he often responds in the same way, showing us how we need to change and grow in our attitude toward the problem. This answer is often not the one we were looking for, but it is more effective in helping us trace God’s hand in our life. (NLT)
Luke 12:13 – Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”
* Attitude toward money and wealth
What does your money mean to you? Although Jesus wanted this man to sell everything and give his money to the poor, this does not mean that all believers should sell all their possessions. Most of his followers did not sell everything, although they used their possessions to serve others. Instead, this incident shows us that we must not let our possessions or money keep us from following Jesus. We must remove all barriers to serving him fully. If Jesus asked, could you give up your house? your car? your level of income? your position on the ladder of promotion? Your reaction may show your attitude toward money–whether it is your servant or your master. (NLT)
Mark 10:21 – Jesus felt genuine love for this man as he looked at him. “You lack only one thing,” he told him. “Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
* Several hurtful attitudes toward others
Paul’s criterion for all his actions was not what he liked best but what was best for those around him. The opposite approach would be (1) being insensitive and doing what we want, no matter who is hurt by it; (2) being oversensitive and doing nothing, for fear that someone may be displeased; (3) being a “yes person” by going along with everything, trying to gain approval from people rather than from God. In this age of “me first” and “looking out for number one,” Paul’s startling statement is a good standard. If we make the good of others one of our primary goals, we will develop a serving attitude that pleases God. (NLT)
1 Corinthians 10:33 – That is the plan I follow, too. I try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what I like or what is best for me, but what is best for them so they may be saved.
* Attitude of worldliness
Jesus was obviously angry at the merchants who exploited those who had come to God’s house to worship. There is a difference between uncontrolled rage and righteous indignation–yet both are called anger. We must be very careful how we use the powerful emotion of anger. It is right to be angry about injustice and sin; it is wrong to be angry over trivial personal offenses. (NLT)
1 John 2:15-16 – Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and oxen, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Don‘t turn my Father’s house into a marketplace!”
* Attitudes displayed in the Good Samaritan parable
Confronting the needs of others brings out various attitudes in us. Jesus used the story of the good but despised Samaritan to make clear what attitude was acceptable to him. If we are honest, we often will find ourselves in the place of the expert in religious law, needing to learn again who our neighbor is. Note these different attitudes toward the wounded man.
To the expert in religious law — the wounded man was a subject to discuss. To the bandits — the wounded man was someone to use and exploit. To the religious men — the wounded man was a problem to be avoided. To the innkeeper — the wounded man was a customer to serve for a fee. To the Samaritan — the wounded man was a human being worth being cared for and loved. To Jesus — all of them and all of us were worth dying for.
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