31 Days of Progress Day 22 :: Heart Choices Part 4

In order to love and serve my neighbor better, I need to check my attitudes and exchange right ones for the wrong ones.

Recap:

  • Attitudes are patterns of behavior, choices of the heart, developed over time.
  • We choose our attitudes.
  • In order to change an attitude, we must admit we chose it in the first place and truly desire to change it!
  • We must replace a wrong attitude with a right one, lest the wrong one return and develop stronger roots. {Matthew 12: 43-45}
  • We can replace an attitude of complaining with an attitude of thankfulness. {Part 2}
  • We can replace an attitude of covetousness with an attitude of contentment. {Part 3}

 

CriticalAttitude

Okay, I don’t want to hammer us with this one too hard…that coveting stuff was pretty rough. If I am going to be able to love & serve my neighbor better, I need to exchange a critical attitude for a loving attitude.

Critical

crit·i·cism

[krit-uh-siz-uhm]

noun

1. the act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything.

2. the act of passing severe judgment; censure; faultfinding.

[Source: Dictionary.com]

For the purposes of examining our attitudes, we are going to use complaining {Part 2} when we are talking about circumstances and criticism when talking about people.  In that case, criticism is “the act of passing judgment as to the merits of a person.” Ouch. Analytical people often have a particular issue with criticizing people.  Double ouch. If you are an analytical person {guilty} you have to learn to not dwell on faults in others! Boy, has this been a hard lesson for me in life!  By God’s grace I think I have actually made progress through life…but there are plenty of times I slip, as I’m sure we all do.

“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” – Matthew 7:3  The whole of the passage reminds us that it is not our place to judge others…and that if we do, the same measure will be used to judge us.  Something to consider is that the attitude we choose affects the way we look at people, and has a direct bearing on how we interact with them.  In other words, if we look with the purpose of finding fault, we will find it!  None of us are perfect. What we need to do is change our attitude before we go examining people and their actions and motives.

Loving

The best attitude to replace a critical attitude is a loving attitude.

a·ga·pe

[ah-gah-pey]

noun

1. the love of God or Christ for humankind.

2. the love of Christians for other persons, corresponding to the love of God for humankind.

[Source: Dictionary.com]

We are talking about Godly love here, or agape…not eros {or romantic love} or even phileo {brotherly love}, which both involve feelings.  Agape love is a choice, followed by action…an attitude.  I love how James MacDonald explains in his book Lord, Change My Attitude: Before It’s Too Late the way that we tend to use the word love:

What we often mean when we say “I love you” is not “I’ve made a commitment to place your needs above my own.” Instead we often mean, “I love what you do for me.  You make me feel good.  What you are doing right now is working for the person that I truly love most, which is me.”

If we read and meditate on 1 Corinthians 13, widely known as “The Love Chapter”, we see that real love is patient with people’s faults and idiosyncrasies. It assumes the best about someone and wants what is best for them.  It looks out for the other person, before one’s self.  Because my sin nature is analytical {i.e. critical} one of the things God taught me years ago was to take the thing I find most negative or aggravating about a person, or their biggest weakness, and try to find the flip-side.  If you are really honest about it you will find that most weaknesses in people will have their corresponding strengths, and if you can learn to appreciate those strengths it can change the way you experience the person to whom you are relating.  Try it sometime.  It has really worked for me.

Go back and camp out on the first 3 verses of the chapter you will notice that just going through the motions, or appearing to love someone is not enough. If we are to truly love our neighbors, it is to come as an outflowing of Christ’s love through us…only that can change our attitude!

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