(Appearance, Feelings, Perspective)
1. Negative Attitudes
How do negative attitudes affect our relationship with God?
1 Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, "With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man."
2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.
3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD.
4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering,
5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
6 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?
7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."
8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
9 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?"
10 The LORD said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground.
11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand.
12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth."
13 Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is more than I can bear.
14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me."
15 But the LORD said to him, "Not so ; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over." Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.
16 So Cain went out from the Lord's presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
KEY BIBLE VERSE: "Why are you so angry?" the Lord asked him. "Why do you look so dejected?" (Genesis 4:6)
Negative attitudes may cause us to turn away from God.
The Bible does not say why God rejected Cain's offering. Perhaps Cain's attitude was improper, or perhaps his offering was not up to God's standards. God evaluates both our motives and the quality of what we offer him. When we give to God and others, we should have a joyful heart because of what we are able to give. We should not worry about how much we are giving up, for everything belongs to God in the first place. Instead, we should joyfully give to God our best in time, money, possessions, and talents.
1 Samuel 8:1-9, 19-22
1 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel.
2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba.
3 But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.
4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah.
5 They said to him, "You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have."
6 But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD.
7 And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.
8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you.
9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do."
19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. "No!" they said. "We want a king over us.
20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles."
21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD.
22 The LORD answered, "Listen to them and give them a king." Then Samuel said to the men of Israel, "Everyone go back to his town."
KEY BIBLE VERSE: "Look," they told him, "you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king like all the other nations have." (1 Samuel 8:5)
Negative attitudes lead to wrong decisions.
Israel was called to be a holy nation, separate from and unique among all others (Leviticus 20:26). 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.
2. Positive Attitudes
What are the benefits of a positive attitude?
19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, "This is how your slave treated me," he burned with anger.
20 Joseph's master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison,
21 the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.
22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there.
23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph's care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.
KEY BIBLE VERSE: After hearing his wife's story, Potiphar was furious! He took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king's prisoners were held. But the Lord was with Joseph there, too, and he granted Joseph favor with the chief jailer. (Genesis 39:19-21)
Positive attitudes allow God to work.
As a prisoner and slave, Joseph could have seen his situation as hopeless. Instead, he did his best with each small task given him. His diligence and positive attitude were soon noticed by the jail warden, who promoted him to prison administrator. Are you facing a seemingly hopeless predicament? At work, at home, or at school, follow Joseph's example by taking each small task and doing your best. Remember how God turned Joseph's situation around. He will see your efforts and can reverse even overwhelming odds.
10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD.
11 They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?
12 Didn't we say to you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians'? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!"
13 Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.
14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."
KEY BIBLE VERSE: 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." (Exodus 14:13)
Positive attitudes can influence others.
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 firm" and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish.
Whose attitude should we imitate?
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
KEY BIBLE VERSE: Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. (Phil. 2:5)
The best positive attitude is one like Christ's.
Often people excuse selfishness, pride, or evil by claiming their "rights." They think, I can cheat on this test; after all, I deserve to pass this class, or I can spend all this money on myself-I worked for it, or I can get an abortion; I have a right to control my own body. But as believers, we should have a different attitude; one that enables us to lay aside our rights in order to serve others. If we say we follow Christ, we must live as he lived. We should develop his attitude of humility as we serve, even when we are not likely to get recognition for our efforts. Are you selfishly clinging to your rights, or are you willing to serve?