Attitude is a little thing

by Doug Malear on February 24th, 2011

“… Burn with zeal and change your attitude”
Rev. 3:19b (Berkley Edition)

Webster's New World Dictionary (Third College Edition) defines attitude as; 1. The position or posture assumed by the body in connection with an action, feeling, mood, etc. [to kneel in an attitude of prayer] 2. a manner of acting, feeling or thinking that shows ones disposition, opinion, etc. In the WordNet Online Dictionary, one of the definitions is as follows; [n] a complex mental state involving beliefs and feelings and values and dispositions to act in certain ways; "He had the attitude that work was fun.”

I've heard it said, “Our attitude determines our altitude.” It's also been said that, “attitude is everything.” Your attitude at any given time and in any circumstance will always affect, and even determine, results and outcomes. So, not only is attitude important, according to the Bible, but it is something that can be changed if we so desire. Changing one's attitude speaks of changing direction, to make a conscious decision to think and act differently toward something or someone. Revelation 3:19b in the King James Version of the Bible states, “…….. Be zealous therefore, and repent,” and the New International Version says “……. Be earnest, and repent.” The word 'repent' means to change direction and go the opposite way. I like the Berkley Edition of the Bible, in this case, because it really gets to the core of what Jesus is saying, “……. Burn with zeal and change your attitude.”

Taking this portion of scripture in context we see that Jesus is talking to the church of Laodicea. They have a prideful attitude, which is causing them to miss God. They are zealous for the things of the world but lukewarm toward God;
"So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth" (Rev.3:16). The city of Laodicea was known, during Roman times, for its extensive banking establishments, a medical school that had invented a famous eye salve, and a textile industry famous for its rare black wool.

This pride of wealth, fame and material things were not limited to the secular society, but had spilled over into the church. Rather than influencing their community towards the true riches of Christ, the church became influenced by the counterfeit wealth of the world. They expressed openly that they were rich and in need of nothing. Jesus answers their declaration in the following verses; (Rev. 3:17-18 NIV) .....“You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”

Jesus is very thorough in the way that He answers the church in Laodicea. He addresses each area that the secular society was excelling in, and the church was pridefully emulating. Their attitude was not one of gratitude and glory to God, but an attitude of “look what we (man) have accomplished.” So Jesus tells them that whereas they thought they had it all together, they were actually wretched and pitiful; where they boasted of their riches because of their extensive banking trade in Laodicea, they were actually poor; where they bragged of being the home of a famous, miraculous eye salve and school, they were actually blind; and where they thought they had risen to the top of the line in fashion wear, predicated upon a rare black wool produced in their area, they were actually naked.

Jesus is speaking here to the church of today, as well as, the church in Laodicea. He knows that we have developed great, intricate programs and structures in our own strength but have left Him out. He knows that we have been building our own kingdoms at the expense of lost souls who need direction to His kingdom. He knows the church, in many cases, has begun to emulate the world, rather than turning the world upside down. He knows that we (the church) need an attitude adjustment in order to get back on track now and then. To quote a famous frog, “It ain't easy being green.” Well, it's not always easy being the pure church. We have to work at it, and it starts with an attitude that is open to God, humble, teachable, and willing to take a stand for Christ.

Attitude may seem like a little thing, and not very important in the grand scheme of things, but your attitude can cause you to have a good or bad day, week, year, or life. The attitude you take into the workplace, school-place, marketplace, etc. will determine, in large part, the path you find yourself on and the results realized in every endeavor. If you nurture an attitude of gratitude in your own life and repent, i.e., change your attitude from self centered to God centered, you will be blessed.

Again, taking these scriptures in context, in the very next verse (Rev. 3:20) we see that Jesus is standing at the door of the Laodicean church wanting to be invited in. This verse is used, quite often, to give an illustration to those who are lost, and without Jesus, that He stands at the door of their heart and knocks, waiting for admittance so He can save their soul. There is also a well-known painting of that scene that I have seen in numerous places through the years. It is a fascinating piece of modern art painted in 1853-54 by William Holman Hunt and is called "The Light of the World". It shows the figure of Jesus preparing to knock on an overgrown and seemingly long-unopened door. But, as I said, He is knocking at the door of the Laodicean church who thought they had need of nothing. They had, without realizing it, left the Lord of glory out of the church. And, of course, it is a picture of the church at large today, especially the American Church which is in need of an attitude change in order to become the true church of Jesus Christ.

I believe the biggest problem with the attitude of the church in America is that we are not thankful for what we have. We have lost that attitude of gratitude and have traded it for an attitude of self-pride that proclaims to the world, “We have it all together, we can do it all, we have need of nothing. In William Holman Hunt's painting, there is no doorknob on the outside, indicating that the decision to open the door is in our hands, that is, the Church.

Jesus says, in Rev. 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (NIV)

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