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Written by Bill Bradford
You don’t find it in the Bible, but the word 'attitude' describes a person’s frame of mind and generally affects everything he or she does. Paul’s account of Jesus' attitude should be very encouraging for us. “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb 12:2). Paul follows in verse 3, “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”
Discouragement is an attitude that easily affects us when we experience adverse and disagreeable circumstances. Sometimes they are very severe. We have seen some of our military who return from a war theatre, only to find that the traumatic experiences have affected their whole outlook on life. A general discouragement can set in and affects our approach in life. Paul described it as a weariness in our souls. Life becomes so much more difficult when we view it through the filter of negative experiences. Sometimes it is called depression, which seems to be a general or semi-permanent condition or our lives.
It affects our relationships, our productivity, our marriages, our work ethic, and indeed our entire future as well as the future of our children. Much of this is never recognized and we live life thinking that our level of discouragement is normal. Sadly it affects all around us and bestows upon us a quality of life far from what God intended.
Jesus knew what he was up against, long before he became flesh, but the joy he experienced in life as a human was in spite of the terrible moment that lay ahead of him. Fear of the future is a terrible disability. Depression, or our negative frame of mind does disable us so we don’t experience the joy of life.
Joy is sometimes understood to be thankfulness, not just a random emotion that we sometimes have, if we are lucky. This kind of approach in life can be spawned and cultivated, and it does take some awareness and effort on our part. So is it a choice? There is a lot of controversy about that and too much to get into here. But can you set in motion certain habits, or practices or mental and emotional disciplines to change your thinking? Now that is something to think about!
One of the characteristics of negative thinking is a failure to appreciate what we have been given in life. Many physically handicapped people have overcome their disadvantaged position in life by making the most of what they have left.
The sad part about this is that perfectly normal people, who may have been disadvantaged somewhere in their past, live a life below the emotionally healthy line. Life becomes a chore. This is not denying our debilitating past isn’t real. The difference is in how we handle it. Does a frame of reference develop in our thinking and begin to affect our lives?
Jesus was such a person who was up against such hostility and adverse circumstance that no ordinary man could deal with it. Yet, he for the joy set before him, he endured hostility beyond what we experience. Those who have become great servants of God had to have an attitude that God could use. They experienced more adversity than your average person. They even made mistakes, but God was looking for an attitude. It is in ‘attitude’ that all adversity is overcome.
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5). by Bill Bradford
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