Published August 16, 2016

Paul's Epistle

"Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference."

Winston Churchill said that. He wasn't a theologian in the usual sense, but the esteemed wartime leader of Great Britain expressed a spiritual truth in what he said.

You and I have both been around people with miserable attitudes. They would grumble and complain about ... well, just about anything. Some people seem to get a perverse pleasure out of exhibiting a bad attitude, "sharing" what's wrong about something rather than what's right with it.

On the other hand, you and I have known people – many people, I hope – who have a wonderful attitude, even in the worse of situations. Even when life seems to hand them a lemon, they find a way to make lemonade (as the old saying goes). Their positive attitude actually helps them through those difficult times. And, medical researchers tell us, a positive attitude improves our health and can actually lengthen our lives.

Why is attitude important? Well, first and foremost, it's important to God. The Apostle Paul had a lot to say about our attitudes as Christians. "You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had" (Philippians 2:5). What attitude? An attitude of "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17b). Paul says, "If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too" (v. 18).

In fact, Paul is quite clear that our attitude should exemplify Christ to the world: "Do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life..." (Philippians 2:14-16a).

And this attitude must be a "heart" attitude, not just a clever acting job for the benefit of those around. As the Lord told Samuel, "...the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).

God blesses a good attitude. It's why you do what you do, not what it is that you do.

For example, let's say you are ladling out soup somewhere in a soup kitchen. You could be thinking, "Man, I sure hate doing this. I'd rather be doing something else — anything else. I have better things to do with my time. These people are losers. This isn't benefitting me at all." Or you could be thinking, "Isn't God great! I can serve Him by helping provide this food for these needy people. I love the opportunity He's given me to do His will. What a blessing this is to these people — and to me!"

Which of those attitudes do you think the Lord will bless? Note that either way, the end result outwardly is the same – those people are fed. And that's a good thing. So it's not what you do that affects God's view of you – it's your attitude in doing the work. People, after all, can do all the right things for all the wrong reasons.

This is something we must remember in our everyday lives. No matter how mundane, no matter how dirty the job, do all things as unto the Lord. "Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people" (Ephesians 6:7; see also Colossians 3:23).

As you serve others and live your life with a Christlike attitude, people around you will notice. Approvingly. And there's a bonus to all of this. As you let the love of God permeate your own life and radiate out to others, your own attitude toward what you're doing will improve. Your attitude toward the people you're serving will improve. Your attitude toward your work and your employer will improve. If you do it as unto Christ, whatever you do will be done as He would want it done. And it will be to His Glory.

A story is told about the construction of a magnificent cathedral in London, designed by noted 17th century architect Sir Christopher Wren, designer of St. Paul's Cathedral. A journalist thought it would be interesting to interview some of the workers, so he chose three and asked them simply, "What are you doing?"  The first replied, "I'm cutting stone for 10 shillings a day." The next answered, "I'm putting in 10 hours a day on this job." But the third said, "I'm helping Sir Christopher Wren construct one of London's greatest cathedrals."

Which worker had the right attitude? Two looked inward. But one looked outward and upward. That's what God sees. Is that the attitude He sees in us?

"...Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes" (Ephesians 4:23).

- Paul

Note: Some of the Scripture quotes above are from the New Living Translation (NLT) because, surprisingly, the word "attitude" is not found anywhere in the KJV or the NKJV, although the concept is certainly rendered in other words.

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