Sunday, January 10, 2016 am                                    Others 2016 Index


Attitudes toward others.


This year we are examining the importance of others in our lives as Christians.  Philippians 2:3-4 is a text we need to consider.    Last week, introducing the subject, we noted several aspects of being a Christian that involves others.    Today, I want to focus more on one of those aspects – how our attitudes affect others.   Last year we spent considerable time dealing with attitudes.  While in this lesson we may revisit some of those attitudes, our approach will be different.  The truth is that behind everything we do there are attitudes.   That is why we need to get the attitude right.  When the attitude is right, other matters will more easily fall into place.

 I.                    Improper attitudes

a.        Selfishness

                                                   i.      One that is selfish thinks only of himself.  He hoards what he has and never shares.     

                                                  ii.      An example of selfishness would be the brother of the prodigal – Luke 15:25-32

                                                iii.      Galatians 5:20 – selfish ambitions is actually a work of the flesh

                                                iv.      Our text, Philippians 2:3-4 – calls for us to not be selfish!
1 Corinthians 13:5 speaks of love not seeking its own.

                                                  v.      Such an attitude will cause him to neglect his responsibilities to others and often to view others with a negative attitude.  Depending upon how selfish one is, he might actually engage in conduct that is unbefitting the Lord’s body. 

b.       Pride and arrogance

                                                   i.      A product of selfishness, pride is an attitude where one thinks more highly of himself than he ought to think, conceit. 
Arrogance is an attitude of superiority demonstrated in an overbearing manner.

                                                  ii.      These are unhealthy attitudes for the one who possess them.  They will blind one to what he really needs and cause jaded attitudes towards others.

                                                iii.      Examples of arrogance and pride include – Naaman (2 Kings 5:11-13) when told to dip in the Jordan to be healed of his leprosy; Haman in the book of Esther who thought he was greater than others; Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon whose heart lifted him up,
and the Pharisee who went into the temple to pray (Luke 18:11)

                                                iv.      Proverbs 8:13, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate.” 
Prov. 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.

                                                  v.      The Christian must avoid these attitudes as they are opposite the attitude we ought to have.
1 Corinthians 13:4 - love does not parade itself and is not puffed up
Romans 12:3 we are not to think more highly of ourselves.
Philippians 2:3 – speaks of “lowliness of mind.”

                                                vi.      Arrogance and pride can cause you to talk down to others and thereby defeat opportunities to teach them properly.   It is also an attitude that is unattractive and can actually damage the disposition of others as well.  
NOTE: How often do we see arrogance in others and are unimpressed with it, yet we cannot see it in ourselves?

c.        Bitterness

                                                   i.      The word is associated with taste and has reference to something that has a harsh or disagreeable flavor.  Based on this, we are speaking of an attitude that is sharp, harsh and antagonistic. 

                                                  ii.      Bitterness, if not checked, can cause irreparable damage.  It has led to murders, including the first with Cain – Genesis 4:5-8. 
In some way, Simon the magician had been poisoned by bitterness, perhaps being resentful of the abilities of the apostles. (Act 8:23)
Jonah, was bitter toward Nineveh and when God relented he was bitter at His decision.

                                                iii.      Ephesians 4:31 calls for us to put away bitterness and wrath as well as other things. James 3:14 warns that if we have bitter envy and self-seeking, it is a demonic attitude.

                                                iv.      Usually, bitterness is directed toward others and causes one to act hatefully toward them.  
It can also cause one to look upon others with jaded views – blaming others for what is wrong and at times take it out on the innocent (i.e. one who is bitter at work and takes it out on his family, etc.)
EVEN if the disposition is internalized, your demeanor affects others and can cause you to be undesirable to be around.    Even the proverbs warns against associating with an angry man (Prov. 22:24, “Make no friendship with an angry man, And with a furious man do not go,”

                                                  v.      HOW can we be an influence to others if we have a sour disposition? 

d.       Envy and jealousy

                                                   i.      Envy is a feeling of discontent or covetousness toward the advantages and successes of others.  Biblically the word means to begrudge or be resentful of another.  
Jealousy is similar, though not always as intense. 

                                                  ii.      There are many examples of envy in the Bible – Sarah against Hagar, Rachel and Leah, Joseph’s brothers (and that’s just in Genesis).  King Saul was envious of David when the people followed him (1 Samuel 18-19)  Also consider Matthew 27:18 where Pilate knows that it was because of envy that the Jews had handed Jesus over to be executed.

                                                iii.      It is described as a work of the flesh – Galatians 5:21
James 3:14-16 tells us that if we have envy – it comes from the place where every evil thing is.

                                                iv.      We are to put away bitter envy – 1 Peter 2:1
Romans 13:13 tells us to walk properly, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.

                                                  v.      Envy, like bitterness can cause great damage to relationships and carries the same effects. 
It can cause you to turn against another.  It is an attitude that will consume you and affect others negatively. 

e.       Contentious –

                                                   i.      The word contentious in the New Testament is a word that means one who causes strife or conflict that results in rivalry and discord. 
It is a challenging word because it is a derivative of the word “contend” – which is something we ought to do (Jude 3).    But while we contend (fight for the truth) we are not to be contentious.    A contentious attitude will affect others

                                                  ii.      Proverbs 18:6, “A fool’s lips enter into contention, And his mouth calls for blows.
1 Corinthians 1:11 – because of contentions, there was division in Corinth.
Galatians 5:20 – it is a work of the flesh.

                                                iii.      As Christians, we should develop attitudes that promote peace (without compromise)
Gal. 5:26 not provoking one another. 
We also read, “but if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed” (Gal. 5:15)

                                                iv.      Contentions affect the church as well as your influence with those outside.  It you are constantly looking for and finding fault with everyone, they are going to avoid you.
Proverbs 18:19,”A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a castle.

f.         Being overly critical

                                                   i.      Related to one who is contentious, this describes the one who is constantly looking for and finding fault with others.  There are some who seem to thrive on pointing out what is wrong with everyone else.  We even have some in our society who make a living criticizing others. 

                                                  ii.      There is certainly a place for legitimate critique and sometimes fault lies in one who is NOT willing to expose error and defend what is right.   One definition I came across portrayed the idea of one who is qualified to make judgments about the merits or faults of a thing. 
We see this all the time – as teachers critique the work of their students and even parents try to rear their children by finding fault or praise in one’s actions.  Even preachers are to “criticize” if you will – 2 Timothy 4:2.    
But note we said QUALIFIED.  What that means is one has the experience,  proper motives AND proper attitude to critique the situation.  The PROBLEM is that far too many are NOT qualified to criticize – they do not have all the facts and/or they do not have a proper attitude.  Their intent is to build themselves up while tearing down others, OR perhaps they are simply not considerate of others.  Some don’t realize that they are always criticizing others.  That is a sinful attitude and the attitude we are addressing here. 

                                                iii.      Jesus was wrongly criticized by His enemies for supposedly violating the Sabbath (Matt. 12:2, John 9:14-16, etc. 
Moses was criticized by the people on many occasions (Numbers 16:12-13, 41), by Korah and his followers (Numbers 16), and even Aaron and Miriam on one occasion criticized him (Numbers 12:1-2)

                                                iv.      1 Cor. 13: - love rejoices in truth.  Bears, believes, hopes and endures all things. 
Ephesians 4:31 – continues, let all “…clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.”
James 1:19 – tells us to be swift to hear and slow to speak.

                                                  v.      One who is constantly critical affects others in many ways.  He sows discord among brethren (Prov. 6:19).  He could be guilty of biting and devouring his brethren (Gal. 5:15).   One who has this attitude may cause others to not ask questions or engage in profitable discussion for fear of being maligned or belittled – thereby opportunities to teach may be crushed. 
And, in general, no one likes to be around someone that is always looking to find fault, regardless of motives.  One with this disposition can make a room uncomfortable.

g.        Calloused

                                                   i.      Calloused speaks of one that is harsh and uncaring in his words and demeanor.  He says whatever is on his mind and doesn’t care how it affects others.  The word actually deals with one who is so hardened that he cannot be moved.

                                                  ii.      The Bible speaks of the hardened heart (Luke 8:12 – the wayside soil). 
Hebrews 3:13 warns against being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
1 Timothy 4:2 speaks of one reaching a point where their conscience is seared with a hot iron – that is one who is calloused in his conscience. 

                                                iii.      Pharaoh is an example of a hardened or calloused heart (Exodus 8:15, 4:21, etc.).  Look at the way he treated the Israelites. 

                                                iv.      As Christians we are to care and be concerned about others.  That is really the focus of our study this year.  1 Corinthians 13:4 describes love as kind.  It also does not behave rudely (vs. 5).  Both of these express caring for others and will cause one to temper his attitude toward them.  Next week we will address these attitudes in greater detail.
1 Peter 3:8 calls for us to be tenderhearted and courteous. 

                                                  v.      The calloused attitude will do little good in interacting with others.  Many of the above mentioned attitudes cause one to become calloused to the needs of others, OR the calloused heart will result in some of the attitudes. 
It is more likely to turn others away than to win them.  There is no place for such in the attitude of a Christian. 

h.       Grumpiness, ill-tempered

                                                   i.      Grumpy is described as bad-tempered or sulky.   Surly or grouchy are other description.

                                                  ii.      This one is not specifically mentioned in the Bible.  But it is an attitude that is clearly not helpful as we interact with others – whether it be our family, our brethren or the world.  And such a disposition can be outright ugly.

                                                iii.      In the Bible, some characters that might display this attitude include:

1.       Nabal, the husband of Abigail who would become one of David’s wives after Nabal died.  In 1 Samuel 25, Nabal was described as wealthy but also harsh and evil in his doings (1 Sam 25:3)  He refused to help David even though David had protected some of his servants.  Nabal’s servants go to Abigail and call him a scoundrel and that no one could speak to him (reason with him) - 25:17. Abigail is protecting her husband called him a scoundrel (a worthless one) and that folly was with him as well (25:24-25).   Later that night he is struck by the LORD and dies about 10 days later.

2.       King Saul also had a distressing spirit that causes him to try and kill David.  You see bitterness of soul in him. 

                                                iv.      Some of the Biblical challenges include:

1.       It doesn’t portray the light of Jesus favorably – Matthew 5:16

2.       This attitude leads to many of the qualities we have mentioned – criticism, bitterness, and being contentious. 

3.       James 5:9 – do not grumble – complaining or groaning against others ,
Phil. 2:14-15  – complaining and disputing so that you can be a proper example.
1 Peter 3:8  calls for us to be tenderhearted and courteous. 

4.       It doesn’t demonstrate the joy a Christian ought to possess.  More on this next week also.


The result of such attitudes - It can also cause others to avoid you, or be uncomfortable around you.  Perhaps a good way to describe what the attitude of a Christian OUGHT to be is that they put people at ease around them.  We have to think about others!

NOTE: I realize that life is sometimes difficult and filled with disappointments. At times they can be severe.  It is hard to maintain a good attitude all the time, especially in these evil times.   BUT, regardless, we must learn to control out attitudes and realize that we CAN!  But will we?  Think about it.