His Without Reserve

 The airwaves are filled with attitudes. Let's listen in.

"I won't forgive you as long as I live!"

"I have my own ideas about that, no matter what you say!"

Would you choose to live or work with the person who made these statements?

"I know it's a difficult assignment, but I'm going to stay with it till it's done!"

"You're new here, aren't you? I can show you how things work in our department."

Would you like to work with a person who made these statements?

"It doesn't matter if it's an inch short."

"It looks as though the check-out clerk put my two drill sets in my bag, but she rang up only one. Too bad for the store!"

Would you hire this carpenter to add a room to your house?

"It's the only body I have. I'm going to make it last as long as I can!"

"I'm not going to let the weeds in the back yard get ahead of me ."

Is this person someone you might choose to marry?

"I'll clean up my mess later."

"I just can't pull myself away from the TV when the late-night shows come on.

Does this person sound like a good college roommate?

We hear comments like these all the time, don't we? We've probably made at least one of them ourselves. The attitudes behind these statements are, in order, unwillingness to forgive, stubbornness, diligence, helpfulness, indifference, dishonesty, stewardship, diligence, carelessness, and self-pleasing.

Attitudes begin to develop very early in life and are formed from our social environment, our prejudices, and our responses to the world around us. Unfortunately they can become so powerful that instead of our controlling them, they control us! They affect our moods and tend to dictate how we respond to the situations we face every day. These seemingly harmless mental reflexes reveal our disposition and form our personality.

Right Attitudes Reveal Our Christlikeness

As we devote ourselves wholly to Christ, we are immediately startled to see that our existing attitudes are not like His attitudes. Yes, Christ has attitudes. As we join ourselves to Him, He wants to show us how to replace our self-centered attitudes with His selfless ones. In this regard joining Christ is similar to joining a club. When we join the Sierra Club, for example, we are expected to learn and adopt the attitudes about our earthly environment that the other members have. Its mission statement reads: "to explore, enjoy and protect the wild places of the earth." (1) If we share this mission, if our attitudes toward the care of our planet home coincide with theirs, we will feel at home and will eagerly contribute to the organization's success.

The same relationship factors exist in our Christian walk. If in answer to the call of the Spirit of God, we join the church, we are expected to learn as much as possible about its founder, Jesus Christ, and His mission to this world. Loyalty to Him, as previous chapters have explained, calls for a decision of holiness, that is, dedicating ourselves to Him and inviting Him to reign supreme in our inner sanctuary.

Now this is the connection between dedication (consecration) and attitudes: When Jesus comes in, He brings His attitudes with Him. His goal is to transform sinners like you and me so we'll think as He thinks and behave as He behaves. When we adopt His lordship, we accept His attitudes, and they're very, very attractive. But, of course, it's unthinkable for an entrenched attitude like greed to occupy the same sanctuary as Christ's attitude of generosity.

Finding Christlike Attitudes in the Bible

Not only did our Savior reveal His attitudes while here on earth as a man, but He and His Father and the Holy Spirit in their divinity have revealed their attitudes to us as well. When the children of Israel grievously disappointed the Lord at Sinai and He expressed His readiness to destroy them, Moses pleaded for his people. Seeing that Moses was interceding for them with uncommon grace, the Lord responded, relenting from His intention. The record is: "The Lord passed before him [Moses], and proclaimed, 'The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness'" (Ex. 34:6).

God possesses warm-hearted, winsome attitudes. From this episode we record these attitudes: He is merciful, gracious, patient, loving, faithful, and just. These and other qualities, taken together, describe God's character. They are His mind-set. Are you pleased to have a God like this?

The Lord deeply desires us to be like Him. He wants to help us destroy our carnal nature and grow our spiritual nature. Paul described the "like Him" idea to the Philippians: "Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Phil. 2: 2- 8, NASB, emphasis supplied).

Which attitude of Christ Jesus is Paul highlighting here? Humility. This divine attitude guided Him in His condescension to take on human flesh in order to redeem us.

Let's look closely at the attitudes listed in this passage of Scripture:

of one mind (spiritual nature)

selfish ambition (carnal nature)

conceit (carnal nature)

humility (spiritual nature)

self-centeredness (carnal nature)

caring (spiritual nature)

It's vital to understand the role of attitudes in becoming complete in Christ. Having a bad attitude reveals that the carnal nature is still alive in us. We have not crucified it. We are unconverted.

To know God's attitudes is to know His character. His principle attitude is, of course, love. Again, we must be clear that this love is not our human emotional or sexual love but an unchangeable principle of selfless caring. Close behind love are grace and mercy. Then humility and a willingness to forgive. To know God well, we must know His attitudes. Jesus revealed the high importance of knowing the principles that form God's character when He said, "And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God" (John 17:3).

Becoming Complete in Christ

Ungodly attitudes may still be controlling a Christian years after baptism. They may be pride, an unforgiving spirit, an unseemly desire for position, selfishness, gloominess, impatience, stinginess, suspicion, and fear. Because ungodly attitudes have occupied the control center of the weak Christian for so long, they are very difficult to expel.

The first step to rid oneself of an ungodly attitude is to recognize it and treat it like the sin that it is. Under Spirit-awakened sorrow for this sin, confess that you have one of Satan's attitudes in your heart. Admit that this is a serious condition, like cancer. By faith accept forgiveness and cleansing as revealed in 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Cleansing, in computer language, is running a "scan." The scan of heaven, if we don't interrupt it, includes permanent elimination.

The second step is to bring to this warfare against carnal attitudes all you have learned about the power of Christ over Satan. When you consecrate yourself to God each morning, plead for the aid of the Spirit. Go beyond a general prayer of submission. Give God your heart, your entire inner self. Give Him all your attitudes, and ask Him to slaughter your ungodly ones and invigorate your godly ones. This powerful daily spiritual exercise keeps you on the Highway of Holiness.

The third step is to trust God that your prayer will be answered. It will be, for it is His will that you be like Him.

Here are several Bible texts to memorize so they will become part of your "security center" to keep your inner person free of viruses:

"When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but wisdom is with the humble" (Prov. 11:2).

"Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth" (1 Cor. 13:4-6).

"Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven" (Matt. 6:1). Read on in chapter 6.

"Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:43-45).

"Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God" (Rom. 15:7; see also Hebrews 13:2).

Are We Able to Think as Christ Thinks?

Our goal as growing Christians, holy unto the Lord, is to have the mind of Christ. To have the mind of Christ is to have His attitudes, that is, His way of seeing things, His mind set. Is it possible even to be filled with the attitudes of God? Paul believed so. He prayed for his converts in these exalted words: "I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, . . . Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith . . . [and] that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints [holy ones], what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:16-19).

In our awe of the High God of Heaven and in our sense of ungodliness, we may be totally unaware of the intimacy that He wants to enjoy with us. It is to be expected that we, covered with the shame of our negative attitudes, should run and hide when He approaches, even though we know He loves us dearly. Yet He urges Himself upon us, for we are very dear to Him. He wants more than anything else to fill our minds with His thoughts so we will be like Him. He wants to restore His image in us. He wants us to "be filled with all the fullness of God."

Paul's prayer has been answered in the inner sanctuary of many devout Christians from Paul's time until now. It can also be answered in your heart and mine today.