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Attitude.


Sometimes I wish humans were equipped with instruments that reveal how we line-up with the world around us. I mean, an airplane has an AI instrument, sometimes called an ADI, an Attitude Indicator (or an Attitude Director Indicator). It reads and informs the pilot the orientation of the aircraft relative to the Earth's horizon. That's a vivid name for a complicated aviation measurement, an attitude indicator. Bad things can happen in flight when the pitch (fore and aft tilt) and bank (side to side tilt) of the plane are off center with the horizon. How cool would it be to gauge a person's attitude before we encounter them? Then again, maybe not. If we could read that stuff before hand we may decide to live in a closet for the rest of our lives.

Attitude is one of the more important life disciplines. And, honestly, a precise scientific instrument isn't really necessary in reading the tilt in other people, or them in us. We humans are hard-wired so that our basic approach to life oozes out of our pores. Yes, some of us explode attitude all over life around us, the extroverts among us, while others keep it close, the introverts. Still, when things heat up, like during the holidays, all of our emotional triggers can be flipped to "on" and the attitude of the moment can gush out on everyone. Like in the long line at Stuff Mart, or behind the person in the wrong congested traffic lane, or when the clerk says "Irv, clean-up on aisle 7", (meaning the mess you just made), or when your child just threw-up on your husbands cashmere Christmas gift. The list of Christmas irritants is too long to cover in a format like this one. We're all familiar with hundreds of things that can shift the weight of a moment, tilt our orientation, and alter our attitude.

Maybe its time for an attitude check. Now, there's a concept that resurrects long lost memories in me. As a knob at The Citadel my squad corporal would ask, almost daily, "What's the good word, Holmes?" We were all conditioned to respond, "Sir, the good word is that I hate this place, sir!" To which he would respond, "Holmes you need an positive attitude check. So, what's the good word maggot?" Once again, the answer had been drilled into all of us, "Sir, the good word is, I positively hate this place, sir". It wasn't really an attitude check. But, it still makes me laugh when reminded of the need for an attitude check.

Speaking of reminders, 'tis the season. No, not the season of Rudolph, Frosty, the little drummer boy, Ebenezer Scrooge, or even Santa. Somewhere underneath all the cultural glitter and tinsel is a manger and the baby whose identity changed the world. Yes, that would be Jesus Christ the Lord. This entire season is our acknowledgement, observance, and worship of him. While we grapple with the contemporary trappings of Christmas there's a spiritual overlay that should level the attitude indicator in us all. Though this attitude adjuster is woven into the fabric of redemptive history in both Testaments, the Apostle Paul's letter to the church at Philippi gives us word about our pitch and bank in life's journey. He wrote---

Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God,

did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own

advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking

on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He

humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on

a cross.

Philippians 2:5-8, HCSB

Plain and simple, our attitude is the be like his. Now, I've chosen the HCSB as the version here because it references our attitude. The ESV and NIV indicate that it is a mind thing, that we should have the same mind in us that is in him. It connects us to what Paul had written to the Corinthian church when he was explaining how mere humans could discern spiritual matters. He wrote, "But we have the mind of Christ"

(1 Corinthians 2:16, ESV). In either sense, our attitude, or mind, is to be like his.

So, our attitude or mind should be one of self-denial by the emptying of ourselves, submission to him as a slave bought with a price (see 1 Corinthians 6:20, ESV), a character of humility, and a heart of obedience. I mean, think about it. How would our response to that line at Stuff Mart , or the congested intersection clogged by a driver in the wrong lane, or our mess on aisle 7, or our response to vomit on an expensive gift be transformed if we were equipped with the attitude of Christ, who we honor in the season?

Sounds far fetched, doesn't it? Then, again, there's this transformation thing that is supposed to define every single believer. Again, Paul wrote it---

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your

mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and

acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2, ESV

That's the entire attitude deal in a sentence. it is the spiritual discipline of resisting conformation to the world's system, but rather being transformed by the renewal of the mind. It brings another Scripture to mind, how we should think---

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just,

whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any

excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8, ESV

That's the final thing about attitude. It is thinking the right things. When we do, much of the pitch and bank of life is righted and there's peace on earth, at least in our little parcel of it. We disappointed Mr. Grinch again.

Merry Christmas!


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