Circumstances in life have a way of shaping our attitudes. Webster defines attitude as “a mental position with regard to a fact or state; a feeling or emotion toward a fact or state.” How we have dealt with things in our past determines what our attitude is towards most situations. Several things may affect how our attitudes are developed. Sometimes it is through observation of how others have dealt with similar situations that determine how we interact when placed in a similar setting. You are probably guilty of saying it yourself, “My mom used to do it this way” and because of this, good or bad, we believe that is how we should react. Also, our instincts cause us to react, framing our attitude. We are instinctively afraid in settings that produce fear. We instinctively get defensive or upset when a word is inflected with the wrong pitch. Experience shapes our attitudes. Perhaps in some settings you have sensed “feeling this way before” based upon events of the past. How we process past occurrences has a great impact on our attitude.
Christian author Chuck Swindoll has said, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.” That 90% is attitude. We can’t control the 10% that happens to us, but we can control how we respond. It’s very important to understand that attitude is a choice! For the Christian, our relationship with Jesus Christ has the greatest effect on our attitude and mental state. Christians, above all people, have a hope in a God who works all things together for good (Romans 8:28), in a God who meets every need (Philippians 4:19), in a God who is loving, patient and kind. How we handle situations that shape our attitude should be different from the world. One of my favorite passages of scripture is Isaiah 43:18-19 where God says to the people, “Forget the things that happened in the past. Do not keep on thinking about them. I am about to do something new. It is beginning to happen even now. Don’t you see it coming? I am going to make a way for you to go through the desert. I will make streams of water in the dry and empty land.” We serve a God who can affect our attitudes and change our future!
As I read Scripture, I am convinced that a Christian who really desires to please God and obey Him in their everyday walk will develop a positive attitude. It should be a natural outcome of our relationship with God and getting to know Him better. Think about it: No one can make you have a bad attitude, I don’t care how bad situations are. No one can force you to have a good attitude, I don’t care how good the situation is. You choose to have a good or bad attitude. Your attitude is your choice. What is your choice? Philippians 4:8 Remember your attitude will determine your altitude.
Our attitude will greatly affect our actions. While our actions may not always reflect the transformation God has promised, He has given us a standard for our actions. The popular phrase WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) has become a trendy slogan that adorns bumper stickers and t-shirts, but it actually strikes at the heart of the matter. It asks of us the simple question: Are my actions Christ-like? Much more than what we say, our growth and strength in Christ is measured by what we do—What do your actions say about you? More importantly, what does God expect of our actions? In His Holy Word, God provides us with a remarkable guide. God wants us to: Act with thanks. (I Thess. 5:18); Act with the knowledge that Jesus is with you. (Matt. 28:20); Act with understanding that He will strengthen and equip you (Hebrews 13:21); Act with the knowledge that both good and bad circumstances will work out on your behalf (Romans 8:28); Act like over-comers (Romans 8:37 ); Act like victorious Christians. (I Corinthians 15:57).
Accepting Christ does not exempt us from experiencing hardships and sorrows. Walking with Jesus won’t transform our lives into carefree perfection. In fact, we may even become bruised or broken but as Christians we are forever transformed through His grace and mercy. It is our job to remember that we are new creatures and to act as new creatures do. The Bible is full of people whose lives were transformed when they met Jesus. Many lives today continue to be changed!
The presence of Christ in our life does one thing, it transforms us into new creatures. With Him, we are transformed from the inside out. His presence impacts our attitudes, actions and our lives.