How can I have a good attitude? Why can't I control my emotions?
When it comes down to it, the question of attitude really boils down to making a choice about how you display your emotions on the outside. Both guys and girls have various issues with their emotions for many different reasons. Our hearts get broken, our pride get hurt, or our hormones get out of whack, and we do or say things that we wouldn't normally do or say. The sin inside of us gets out of control.
The apostle Paul admits the struggle of every heart in Romans 7: "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me" (v. 15-17). Sound at all familiar? What should we be doing instead?
What's a good attitude?
When Paul was in prison, he actually wrote about the kind of attitude that believers should have: "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Philippians 1:27). What he's saying is that it doesn't matter what frustrations or annoyances or problems come our way; our job is to always respond to these things in the way that Jesus would.
Do you feel a "what would Jesus do" coming on? No, I won't say that. Oh, wait—I just did. ;-) But so did Paul in Philippians 2:5: "Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ." In Ephesians 5:1, he says the same thing, that we should be "imitators of Christ as dearly beloved children." That is, children have a tendency to mimic what they see. We are God's children, so we should act like Jesus did (Matthew 5:16).
A Christ-like Attitude
So what did Jesus act like? Reading the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) in the Bible will help give you an idea as to what Jesus was like while He was on this earth and interacting with people—not to mention many hateful or dangerous people. He dealt with all kinds of frustrations, annoyances, and problems. Through all of that, He still managed to maintain a perfect attitude in every situation.
Yeah, I know what you're thinking, "But He's JESUS, and I'm NOT." Yes, that's true; no human being can be perfect. But what we can take from Jesus' life story is a living example of what kinds of things He did in order to have these perfect attitudes. Believe it or not, they are actually things we can do!
How to Change Your Attitude
Jesus prayed. He prayed about everything and worried about nothing. By this example, we can always ask for God’s guidance about all of our frustrations, annoyances, and problems (Philippians 4:6). We should listen for His direction and look for opportunities to do as God asks of us (John 10:27).
When Jesus was faced with situations that would normally make us emotional or hurt, He never got defensive, discouraged, or depressed. His goal was to please God, not make Himself happy. We all have a problem with that sometimes. Life on this earth seems like all we have, but ultimately, we exist for God. We take each breath only because God wants us to.
In the middle of hard times, Jesus was patient. During His suffering, He still had hope. Whenever things were going great, He stayed humble and always pointed back to God. Even when He was mocked, teased, beat up, and threatened, He did not fight back or return hurt for hurt. Instead, He trusted that God would be the ultimate judge to those who mistreated Him (1 Peter 2:23).
Our attitude should be filled with selflessness, humility, and a desire to serve (Philippians 2:3-4). We should always be thinking of others before ourselves. No, it's not something that comes naturally all the time—especially when we're feeling hormonal or emotionally hurt.
But when our tempers flare or when we feel like being hateful or vindictive toward someone else, we should stop, take a breath, and ask the Holy Spirit to help us choose a different attitude, changing it to what Jesus's would be. An easy way to start thinking in this way is to try to see the other person's perspective and think about how we can help them—as opposed to dwelling on how we can get our way or get revenge.
You Have a Choice
"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). Each time you follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit and make a decision to act as Christ acted, then you grow closer to becoming more like Him, taking on His values, His attitudes, and His character. "Be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:23-24).
Another thing to remember is that God's ultimate goal for our lives is not total earthly happiness and utter comfort at all times. He wants us to grow spiritually, to become like His Son. That doesn't mean you have to lose the essence of who you are like a mindless clone or slave or something. Being like Christ happens in our minds, and plays out in the choices we make (Romans 12:2) in the moment when we're tempted to give in to our emotions.
How can you be more like Christ right now?
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