Have you ever allowed the circumstances of your life to swallow up all of your joy? If there is one lesson I have learned thus far in life, it is life is hard.
If we are not careful the negative attitudes will consume us and begin to dig our grave. But what if emerging from that grave was a choice? I believe we have a choice everyday to stay in the grave or to find life.
In Philippians, Paul writes to the church and tells them their attitude or mind is to be like Jesus. I first remember reading this passage in High School, it seemed like such an impossibility to have an attitude like Christ. Here is what I think we often forget, ATTITUDE IS A CHOICE! You choose how things will affect you. As much as I would like to sit back and say I have no control over the way I am feeling, I do.
If anyone ever had reason to allow their circumstances to affect their attitude it was Jesus. The prominent leaders in society were always mad at him, his friend betrayed him, his disciples deserted him, people wanted to kill him, and he did nothing wrong and then died for the ones who would. Talk about an unfair life. I love what Andy Stanley says, fairness ended in the Garden of Eden. Since then nothing has been fair.
Paul says here on earth Jesus lived out of his humanity. He felt the full weight of everything he went through on earth. Paul writes…
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! NIV Philippians 2:5-8
Is it possible many of the negative attitudes we encounter are because we hold ourselves in such high esteem, that we consider ourselves better than we are? We are the most like Jesus when we are serving others and putting their needs in front of our own. It is when we begin to put the needs of others above our self we begin to move away from our inner focus and selfishness. Why? Because we are not constantly focusing on what we don’t have and who we are not. Maybe the way out of the pit comes not through focusing on you but through focusing on someone else.
Zig Ziglar tells a story of a father who is a businessman. He works long hours and when he arrives home each evening his son is eagerly awaiting his arrival. One evening as he walks through the door his son can’t wait for his dad to set down the briefcase and play. The father arrived home with the intention of going into his office to finish preparing for a presentation the next day. His son kept bursting through the doors begging his dad to play. Finally, the dad gets an idea. He grabs a magazine off of the rack beside his desk, flips quickly through pages and stops at a picture of the globe. He rips the picture from the magazine and cuts into smaller pieces. He hands the pieces to his son and tells him to go put the world back together.
The dad is proud of his creative thinking, knowing he has just bought himself another 30 minutes easily. However, the dad is astounded when just a few minutes later his son returns and says dad come look, I finished it. The dad follows the young child into his room and is amazed the child really had put the picture of the world back together so quickly and accurately. The dad still puzzled (no pun intended) asked his young son, how did you get the world put back together? The boy looked up at him and said dad that was easy, on the back there was a picture of a man and once I got the man right the world was right.
We seem to have this mentality in our society that when we get our world right we will be right. The problem is you cannot control the world around you; all you can control is you. You can’t change the co-worker or spouse but you can change. You can’t change the job market or economy but you can change. The only thing you can control is you and your attitude. I am not at all suggesting it is always easy, but I am suggesting we have been looking in the wrong places to fix the problems.
Jesus has called us to life and said the only way to find life is through losing our own life. I don’t believe he is speaking only in terms of eternity. If Jesus only offers a better life someday and somewhere else, how are we suppose to make it through today? I believe he offers this incredible, fulfilling life right here and now, but it is only found when we develop new eyes. Developing eyes to see people the way Jesus did and to put their needs ahead of our own. What I believe you will find is when you get the “man” right the “world” will be right to.