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Attitudes in hiding
- Jacob Ninan
We have this experience many times that when we confront someone who has spoken badly to us he quotes his words and vehemently insists that we are accusing him falsely. Even though it is very apparent to us that what he said was wrong, it is also apparent that he believes he is innocent! This is true in the other direction also, and if we look at what others are confronting us about what we said to them, we are sure we are innocent because the words we spoke were all correct!
The problem in both cases is the attitude that is behind the words. Generally speaking we are unaware of the attitudes behind our words and actions. When wrong attitudes come up from our heart to the mind we tend to repress (put out of our consciousness) or suppress them. We then evaluate ourselves on the basis of our words and behaviour and think that we have done well. But the fact of the matter is that is is easy for the others to sense our wrong attitudes and judge us as being wrong even when our words and actions are all fine! This is the same way we evaluate others too.
Suppose a friend of mine writes an article which many people praise very highly. A feeling of envy comes into my mind. But since I am a mature Christian who is not supposed to have things such as envy in me (!), I don't admit to myself that I have such feelings, and I put it out of my mind. Then another friend comes and asks me what I think about this article. I reply that it is very good. But the slight hesitation I had before I spoke and my lack of enthusiasm convey the fact of my wrong attitude to my friend. This is applicable to all sorts of wrong attitudes.
When we recognise a wrong attitude in us we need to humbly acknowledge it to ourselves and to God and ask God for forgiveness (Je.3:13;1Jn.1:9). We mustn't think that it is only a feeling and we haven't actually done anything wrong. No. Our attitudes are a clear indication of who and what we are inside. When God looks at the heart He sees these. We may fool a lot of people with good words and behaviour on the outside. But God may think that we are rotting inside (Mt.23:27,28). We need to become pure in our spirit too and not just on the outside (2Co.7:1).
But it is not enough to get forgiveness for our bad attitudes. We need to get good attitudes! The way to get them is through the word of God. By filling our thoughts with the words of God and meditating on them day and night will give us godly attitudes which will then begin to control our words and action. Ps.119 gives us many exhortations and much encouragement (e.g., v.9,11) to spend time with God's word. The more we do that the more our mind gets transformed to think like He does. The more we think like Him the more we find it easy to have fellowship with Him. Like Abraham we too can become friends of God.
Let us not satisfy ourselves with a reputation before people for good words and behaviour but be able to present to God hearts that are blameless.