“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person” (Matthew 15:18, esv).
The world is a cold place, and life on this earth can lend itself naturally to miserable attitudes. There will always be enough injustice and irritation to keep us in the wilderness if we choose to murmur, complain, criticize, covet, doubt, and rebel.
“The very same circumstance in life can feel like the Promised Land or the wilderness—depending on your attitude.”
On the flip side, though, life also offers plenty of people and situations to generate thankfulness, love, faith, submission, and contentment—attitudes that cause life to flow with the “milk and honey” of God’s blessing and abiding presence. The choice is truly ours.
Of course, some of our choices are limited. At different times, we reach forks in the road of life where we cannot control much. Sometimes we can’t control where we work, where we live, who the authorities in our lives are, and how they treat us. The only thing we can control is our attitude.
You choose your attitude. Sometimes it is the only thing you can choose—and it dwarfs your circumstances. The very same circumstance in life can feel like the Promised Land or the wilderness—depending on your perspective.
God’s Word teaches us some clear truths about the power of our attitudes.
First, the attitude reveals the true person. “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart,” Jesus said (Matthew 15:18a). Your attitude reveals who you truly are. You can get your external behavior in order but still be a mess inside. God isn’t interested in soldiers that just look the part; He wants His followers to be the part, for real. When God looks at you, He sees through to your heart, because that’s where the true person resides. His goal is not a makeover but real heart transformation—changed attitudes.
Second, the attitude predicts the future. “For as [a person] thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7, nkjv). Attitudes are patterns of thinking formed over a long period of time. You can’t think in critical, negative, faultfinding, complaining ways without becoming that person. In spiritual terms, you are what you think! God is fired up about this, because how you think foretells who you become.
Third, the attitude is primarily vertical. Most sin has a horizontal dimension. Stealing and lying, for example, affect personal relationships, though those choices are against God as well. But attitudes are clearly vertical—implicit accusations against and rejections of God and His provision. God considers our attitudes to be directed at Him, which is why He takes them so seriously.
So what are you choosing? Are you following your feelings or deferring to a default attitude based on your circumstances? Negative, critical attitudes make life feel like a wilderness—desolate, dry, barren, hard, and joyless. In contrast, positive, grateful, God-honoring attitudes make life feel like the Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey. The choice is yours. Check your attitude.
Lord, forgive me for what often comes out of my mouth, flowing from ingratitude and selfishness in my heart. Please forgive me for the rebellion against You that is ultimately revealed by these murmuring, complaining, faultfinding attitudes. Father, You have given me new life. I pray that You would fill me with Your Holy Spirit, and empower me to see the choices before me through Your eyes. Thank You for saving me, giving me breath, and guarding my steps. Thank You for Your provision, for new mercies every morning, and for the love You continually lavish on my life. Help me to never stop thanking You, and grant that my attitudes would increasingly shine with Your goodness and grace. In Jesus’ matchless name I pray, amen.
Rob Dunbar, Chaplain, Maj, TN ANG