by Jefferson David Tant
The word “attitude” has different meanings. Two of the meanings are critical and are related to this writing. (1) “Disposition or state of mind,” and (2) “the orientation of a vehicle … relative to the horizon, the direction of motion, etc.” Bad attitudes, in either case, bring bad results. A fairly recent airplane crash in California was evidently caused by a bad attitude, i.e., the tail of the plane was too low and it caught the abutment at the end of the runway and crashed. Likewise, if our mental attitude is not lined up properly, it is inevitable that the results will not be good.
The airplane’s attitude is controlled in the cockpit, the heart of the plane’s operation. And our attitude is controlled in our heart, which is our “control center.” In responding to a question about eating with unwashed hands, Christ replied that it was not what went into the mouth, “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man” (Matthew 15:18-20). Christ’s point was that everything may be scrupulously clean on the outside, but our insides may be corrupt. Solomon’s admonition is to “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
Question: Where does “lust” begin? Someone might say the sight of a scantily clad girl would incite lust in a man’s heart. Not necessarily. That would depend on the man’s heart. Job said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; How then could I gaze at a virgin?” (Job 31:1). If we live in the world, we cannot escape the things that Satan uses to tempt us. Where did Job’s covenant originate? The eyes don’t decide anything. Job’s heart made the decision, made the covenant.
How do we develop the right attitude(s)? The Psalmist declared “Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You” (Psalms 119:11). Another psalm says “The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, And his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; His steps do not slip” (Psalms 37:30-31).
Many times the Psalmist begs to know the ways of God. “Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And will glorify Your name forever” (Psalms 86:11-12)
It is with the heart (mind) that we determine to love our enemies, to resist temptation, to learn God’s word, to have the desire to serve the Lord. As someone has said, “Attitude is everything.”