Summary: Everyone acknowledges that a bad attitude stinks. We don’t even need to discuss about how and why to have a sick attitude … it comes so natural because naturally we are born with it … though we are born in sin but we have a choice to choose our attitude.
Opening illustration: During 1997 as the world focused on the deaths of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa, another significant passing went almost unnoticed. Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl died on September 2 at the age of 93.
During World War II, Dr. Frankl was imprisoned at Auschwitz, where he was stripped of his identity as a medical doctor and forced to work as a common laborer. His father, mother, brother, and wife died in the concentration camps. All his notes, which represented his life’s work, were destroyed. Yet Frankl emerged from Auschwitz believing that “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”
We may not be able to choose our circumstances, but we can choose our attitude toward them. The apostle Paul gave us an example of how this works. He wrote, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content … I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11, 13). Whatever our circumstances may be, we can draw on the power of Christ for the strength to face them. (Our Daily Bread, David C. McCasland)
Let us turn to Philippians 4 in our Bibles and learn to choose and demonstrate a godly attitude through our lives.
Introduction: Everyone acknowledges that a bad attitude stinks worse than a skunk. We don’t even need to discuss about how and why to have a sick attitude … it comes so natural because naturally we are born with it … though we are born in sin, we have a choice to remain as sinners or get out of that rut by making Christ our sole Savior and choose a godly attitude.
This text wasn’t written for scholars, it was written for the blacksmiths and the bakers, the soldiers and the shepherds, the wives and the widows that lived in 1st century Philippi.
Paul is both exhorting and encouraging the folks at Philippi to conjure a godly attitude in their behavior no matter what their situation is … He also states that they can draw strength from God alone during those moments when things don’t seem to be going well and they could easily become vulnerable to putting on a garb of a stinky attitude which not only ruins their image but tarnishes the name of Christ to Whom they profess to belong.
How to have a godly attitude?
1. Meditate on Virtuous Things (vs. 8-9)
What we put into our minds determines what comes out in our words and actions. Paul tells us to program our minds with thoughts that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Do you have problems with impure thoughts and daydreams? Examine what you are putting into your mind through television, books, conversations, movies and magazines. Replace harmful input with wholesome material. Above all, read God’s Word and pray. Ask God to help you focus your mind on what is good and pure. It takes practice, but it can be done. Our thought life determines our action life. If your output is questionable, then surely the input has to be changed. Make sure it is pleasing to God.
Dwelling on these things is very close in meaning to meditating upon them. J. I. Packer says that meditation is the practice of turning each truth we learn about God into matter for reflection before God, leading to prayer and praise to God. Such saturation with the Scriptures is the secret to satisfaction in the soul.
If it is not true Paul writes, do not let it enter your mind. And the way that you know something is not true is by first knowing what is "true", the pure milk of God's holy Word! How you chose to think (either using the guidelines of Philippians 4:8 or the grid of fleshly, worldly wisdom) will affect your will and your emotions (feelings). There are benefits for right thinking and consequences for wrong thinking. Don't be sluggish. Don't be dull of hearing. Don't be deceived. Do be zealous for God and His Holy Word, living out what you take in. In this He will be glorified.
It is not enough to hear or read the Word of God, or even to know it well. We must also put it into practice. How easy it is to listen to a sermon and forget what the preacher said. How easy it is to read the Bible and not think about how to live differently. How easy it is to debate what a passage means and not live out that meaning. Exposure to God’s Word is not enough. It must lead to obedience.
Illustration: (i) Number of years ago, the news media picked up the story of a woman known as “Garbage Mary.” She lived in a smelly Chicago tenement amid mounds of garbage. She spent her time rummaging through trash cans. She would bum cigarettes off her neighbors. Police took her to a psychiatric hospital after she was stopped for questioning and found to be in a confused state of mind. When they went into her filthy apartment, they were astounded to find stock certificates and bank books indicating she was worth at least a million dollars. She was the daughter of a wealthy Illinois lawyer. It’s a pathetic story, but it pictures the lives of many professing Christians, who could be immersing their thought life in that which is true, dignified, right, pure, lovely, of good repute; that which is virtuous and worthy of praise. But instead, they surround themselves with moral filth, wallowing daily in raunchy TV programs, polluting their minds with the sordid stories of this condemned world, rather than focusing their thought life on the things of God and Christ.