A man was being tailgated by a stressed out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the
light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk,
even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection. The tailgating woman was furious and honked her horn, screaming in frustration as she
missed her chance to get through the intersection, dropping her cell phone and makeup.
As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of
a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He
took her to the police station where she was searched, finger printed, photographed, and
placed in a holding cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and
opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer
was waiting with her personal effects.
He said, “I’m very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you
were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at
him. I noticed the ‘What Would Jesus Do’ bumper sticker, the ‘Choose Life’ license plate
holder, the ‘Follow Me to Sunday-School’ bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated
Christian fish emblem on the trunk. Naturally… I assumed you had stolen the car.”
Well, yes, it's an old story that has made the rounds in social media for a couple of years. But, it illustrates several truthful elements of living in a stressed out world. Most of us are slaves to the clock and always in a hurry. The traffic patterns of life, even metaphorically, are fast and congested. Christians are pushed to the edge by a world system on the make. Sure, we can prevent or reverse the effects of waking on the wrong side of the bed through personal devotions and spiritual discipline. Even so, sometimes we need a gut check. You know, an attitude assessment.
The Holman Christian Standard Bible provides an interesting angle on a favorite verse, Philippians 2:5. It reads, "Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus." The word translated "attitude" is used only four times in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 13:11, Philippians 3:15, Colossians 3:2, and Philippians 2:5). It references the setting or regulation of personal opinion, from the root "phroneo", used twenty-six times in New Testament texts. It involves the volitional aspects of directing our inner thoughts to a particular thing.
Having the attitude of Christ is a central theme of biblical discipleship. It is essential in being transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2), putting on the new self (Colossians 3:20), being transformed to the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18), thinking about these things (Philippians 4:8-9), being one is Christ (Galatians 3:28), and so many other Scripture references.
Jesus told his disciples they would have trouble in this world (John 16:33). When he sent them out he reminded them that they were being sent as sheep among wolves (Matthew 10:16). He told them to be as "wise as serpents and innocent as doves". One day he noticed the weight of living this life in an ungodly world and invited them to step aside for rest. He said, "Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while" (Mark 6:31, ESV). Perhaps he knew they needed a gut check, a refreshment of the attitude they should exemplify in serving him.
Life is hard. He never told them it would be easy. Bring that forward 2,000 years and note the pressures of living this life in such a secular world. Sometimes when we're pushed to the limit maybe all we need is a quick gut check to reflect on what it means to have the attitude of Christ in our lives. The character traits of a right attitude are another Scriptural emphasis. Perhaps the clearest picture of this attitude is Galatians 5:22-23---
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Throw in humility, a servant heart, reverence, obedience, persistence, endurance, and other attributes so visible in the attitude of Jesus, and we'll be well on our way to a gut check that produces influence in the world around us.
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