Sermon for Sunday June 13th, 2010

 

Do You Need an Attitude Adjustment? by Derrick Tuper

Ephesians 4:17-4:32

DO YOU NEED AN ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT?

INTRODUCTION: Anyone ever say that to you? “You need an attitude adjustment!” How often do you struggle with having a bad attitude? How often do you spend your time moping around or angry at the world? Sometimes we probably feel like the man whose grandchildren played a practical joke on. Each afternoon Grandpa would lie down for a nap. One day the kids decided to put Limburger cheese in his moustache. Quite soon afterward he awoke sniffing. “This room stinks,” he exclaimed as he got up and went out into the kitchen. He wasn’t there long before he declared, “this kitchen stinks too.” He decided to walk outdoors for a breath of fresh air. Much to Grandpa’s surprise, the open air brought no relief, and he proclaimed, “The whole world stinks!” The truth was it was grandpa who stunk. The problem was right under his nose. Do we go around, thinking everything around us stinks when in fact it’s not everything around us, but our attitude that stinks? Someone rightly said that attitude not aptitude determines ones altitude in life. Let’s see if we can determine today whether or not we need an attitude adjustment.

1) What’s our attitude toward others?
• What it shouldn’t be. Eph. 4:25-32. We shouldn’t be lying to one another, but instead speak the truth. This also means not telling people what they want to hear. If we are speaking truthfully then we are telling them what they need to hear. We shouldn’t harbor anger toward one another or else we will give the devil a foothold and that anger will turn into resentments and hatred. I shouldn’t be stealing, taking from others what doesn’t belong to me but rather make good use of my hands for the benefit of others. I shouldn’t use my tongue against others but rather speak only what will help someone else. If I have the right attitude toward others then I will be ridding myself of all bitterness, rage, anger, fighting, slander and malice. Instead, I need to develop an attitude of compassion and forgiveness.
• What it should be. Phil. 2:1-8. We need to have an attitude of humility like Jesus had. Being humble can defeat negative attitudes. We get a negative attitude when we feel we’re right about something. We get a negative attitude when we look down on someone. When our ambitions are selfish our attitude is ‘what’s in it for me’. When we’re conceited we are looking to draw attention to ourselves. But, if we consider others better than ourselves, we will have a right attitude of humble servitude. If we are looking to the interest of others we are exemplifying the generous attitude of Jesus who did things not for himself but for others. He came to serve, not be served. When our attitude toward others is right we will be encouraging them, not demeaning them. We will be building up not tearing down.

2) What’s our attitude toward ourselves?
• What it shouldn’t be. We shouldn’t be self abasing. It’s not healthy to put ourselves down. That’s false humility. That’s a critical spirit. People who are perfectionists can be self-abasing. This is harmful because it’s so debilitating; especially when it comes to sin. If I have a tendency to beat myself up when I fall then what that usually does is push me further into my sin. I convince myself that I’ll never get this right so why bother trying anymore. I’m nothing but a screw-up so it’s no wonder I keep ending up in messes. Ultimately, with this degrading attitude, one is brought to the point of contemplating suicide. Being demeaning toward myself is dangerously negative.
• What it should be. We should have godly confidence. 1st Cor. 1:26-2:5. We can accept that we weren’t wise or influential or noble without being down on ourselves. Why? Because of what God has done through us. It’s much better to have Godly wisdom that shames the world’s wisdom. It’s much better to have Godly power that shames worldly power. It’s okay if by the world’s definition I am lowly and despised because in God’s eyes I’m not. I don’t have to get down on myself if the world sees me this way if I have the right attitude about it and realize that God has a purpose in it. God chooses people like me so that by a demonstration of his wisdom and power people will recognize that only through God’s provision was this display of wisdom or power possible. We need our faith to rest on God, not ourselves. Rom. 12:3, “For by the grace given me I say to you: Do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought , but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” I need to have godly confidence, not self confidence.

3) What’s our attitude toward God?
• What it shouldn’t be. 1st Kings 11:1-11 (set-up). Vs. 11: “Since this is your attitude…” Solomon had an attitude problem. He was no longer devoted to God. His attitude changed. His devotion to God changed. At the root of Solomon changing his devotion to God was his attitude toward God. What was it? Did he not think God was good enough any more? Powerful enough any more? Worthy enough anymore? Was he angry with God? Although these are attitudes that we shouldn’t have toward God, in this case, Solomon compromised. It’s believed that for the purpose of sealing international relationships, Solomon married foreign women. But this is something that God had warned about. Therefore, through his foreign wives, he was drawn to their gods. He was lured away; he was led away from his sincere and pure devotion to God. Perhaps through a prideful attitude Solomon thought he could entertain the thoughts of other gods without it getting in the way of his devotion to the one true God. Whatever the case, Solomon, who was once directed by wisdom, through a changed attitude, was no longer being directed by wisdom. We can have that problem today. One of the ways in which we can tell if we have an attitude problem toward God is how our attitude is toward church. The young man poured out his heart’s devotion on paper as he wrote to the girl of his dreams: “Darling: I would climb the highest mountain, swim the widest ocean, cross the burning desert, and die at the stake for you. P.S. I will see you on Saturday—if it doesn’t rain.” That might be how some of us are when it comes to going to church. We communicate our sincere devotion to God and our willingness to do anything for him but when it comes to church if it rains or snows or if it’s too hot or cold or if we have the sniffles or a boo-boo then we decide to stay home. Or if there is something else going on that we’d rather do, we choose that instead. “I love you, Lord, but not that much.”
• What it should be. Well, when it comes to having the right attitude toward God’s church, it should be one that recognizes that I shouldn’t need incentives in order to go to church. One day the telephone rang in the preacher’s office of the Washington church, which President Franklin Roosevelt attended. An eager voice inquired, “Tell me, do you expect the President to be in church this Sunday?” “That,” the preacher explained patiently, “I cannot promise. But we expect God to be there, and we fancy that will be incentive enough for a reasonably large attendance.” Knowing that the Lord wants to meet with us on His Day should be enough motivation to be in church. A right attitude toward God is found in my hunger for his righteousness. The section of Matthew 5:1-12 is called the ‘beatitudes’. People often say, “It’s called the beatitudes because this is what our attitude should be”. 5:6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” We need to hunger and thirst for the righteous life. We need to hunger and thirst for God’s word, his power, his love, his wisdom. This hungering and thirsting signifies an insatiable desire for God and the things of God. It’s not the kind of thirst you have after playing ball on a hot day…it’s the kind of thirst you would have after days in the desert without even a drop of water. It’s not the kind of hunger you have when you’ve missed lunch…it’s more like when you’ve gone several days without eating! It’s not just being hungry or thirsty it’s more like being ‘parched’ or ‘starving’. How is your spiritual appetite? How thirsty are you? Do you need any salt in your oats? Huh? You’ve heard the saying, ‘you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink’. That’s true, but you can put salt in his oats. God won’t make us take a drink but he will allow certain things to motivate us to want to quench our thirst. I believe this is one of God’s purposes when we’re tested. Facing a difficult situation can draw us to the table. Strenuous circumstances are like the ringing dinner bell. We hear and respond by running to God to satisfy our hunger and quench our thirst. The psalmist was experiencing this when he wrote psalm 42&43. Being oppressed by his enemies he wrote, Ps. 42:1-2 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” When a deer is thirsty he will run full speed until he finds some water. When he finds it he will stick his face into the cool stream, forgetting everything else around him. This is unusual because deer are normally very alert and cautious. But, when they pant for water, they do almost anything to quench their thirst. Do we have that attitude towards God? Do we hunger and thirst for God and the things of God?

4) How can we develop a positive attitude?
• Look for the good in things. You ever meet one of those people who no matter what was going on they were always able to see the positive side of things? Always willing to look on the bright side? We need to be like that. It doesn’t mean we live in la-la land and pretend like nothing’s wrong. It’s an attitude of seeing things in perspective and keeping hope alive. We so have the tendency to focus on the negative. When we focus on the negative guess what? Our attitude will be negative. We tend to be pessimistic. We need to be optimistic. You can be optimistic and realistic at the same time. You just decide that you’re going to have a positive attitude and look for the good in any situation.
• Change our focus. What are we looking for in any given situation? If we’re looking for the negative, we will find and dwell on the negative. But if we’re focused on the positives, then our attitude will be positive. Jim went to church on Sunday morning. He heard the organist miss a note during the prelude, and he winced. He saw a teenager talking when everybody was supposed to bow in prayer. He felt like the usher was watching to see what he put in the offering plate and it made him boil. He noticed the preacher slipped up five times in the sermon. As he slid out through the side door during the closing hymn, he muttered to himself, “Never again! What a bunch of clods and hypocrites!” Ron went to church on Sunday morning. He heard the organists play an arrangement of ‘A Mighty Fortress’ and was thrilled by the majesty of it. He heard a young girl take a moment in the service to speak her simple, moving message of the difference her faith makes in her life. He was glad to see they were taking up a special offering for the hungry children of Nigeria. He especially appreciated the sermon-it answered a question that had bothered him for a long time. He thought, as he walked out the door, “How can a man come here and not feel the presence of God?” Both men went to the same church on the same Sunday morning. Each found what he was looking for. Our attitude determines what we focus on.
• Take in positive things. We need to get rid of the negative things that feed our negative attitude and replace them with positive things that will give us a positive attitude. Eph. 4:17-24. We need to put off what belongs to our old ways, our old attitude, and put on the new self, our new attitude, striving to be like God. Phil. 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” When negativity rears its ugly head, my combative approach is to think of these things. If I am going to dispel a negative attitude and develop a positive one, I need to change what I think about and dwell on. I need to focus on the positive. Garbage in-garbage out. Opposite is equally true. If I take in positive things, than positive words and deeds will come out.

CONCLUSION: What’s your attitude toward life? Chuck Swindoll in, Strengthening your grip, wrote, “Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitude toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it. I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude. It is more important than my past, my education, my bankroll, my successes or failures, fame or pain, what other people think of me or say about me, my circumstances, or my position. Attitude keeps me going or cripples my progress. It alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope. When my attitude is right, there’s no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me.” Let’s chose to be positive about life. Let’s be positive toward God, others and ourselves.