We all have filters or dispositions from which we evaluate what we hear and from whom we hear it. I am talking about our thought life. That might include thoughts that are inside God’s will or way, or not. Folks might say that their disposition is just the way they are. There is truth to that in that we all are to some extent a product of our upbringing, family and environment. This establishes a point of view or opinions. However, our disposition is also God given at our time of conception.
Consider Esau and Jacob in Genesis 25. They we twin brothers who “jostled each other or warred” in the womb. Who couldn’t have been more different? Esau was hairy, but could care less about domestic things. He was a man’s man. Jacob was an inside guy and a cook, but he was also a conniver. He was born that way. We do know from Jeremiah 17:31 that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Since the Garden of Eden we know that humans are prideful and selfish. There is no one good, no not one Paul reminds us.
Now back to our disposition and thought life. We need to choose to have a positive view of life. Our battles in life and for our thoughts are spiritual. Therefore we must use our spiritual weapons “and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete” (2 Corinthians 10:5-6). In other words, once we are in Christ or believers, we are to control our thought life by the power of the Holy Spirit within us. The fruit of the Spirit includes wonderful attributes, including peace, kindness, gentleness and self-control. Our thought lives about other people are often not very positive or peaceable because of our dispositions. But we can overcome that tendency if we work on it. Remember, the sword of the Spirit is the word of God. We have this weapon empowered by faith and the Holy Spirit to strengthen us. Stay in the word and the positive thoughts it brings. Paul reminds us after telling us not to be anxious about anything to have the peace of God. He then tells us “you are what you think” or something like that by telling us, “Finally, brother and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me- put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9). This is about your thought life. Perhaps these words remind you more of Jesus than Paul, but they are positive nonetheless. Don’t have stinking thinking but replace it with thoughts of God. You find the words and images that work for you. Remember light not dark for in God there is no darkness at all.
Paul reminds us in Romans 12:18, “As much as it depends upon you, if it is at all possible, be at peace with everyone.” We are to have good thoughts and attitudes toward all people. However, others may not want to have the same towards us. I am saddened by this fact, but also encouraged that there will be folks we just can’t get along with because of their choices. We can “shake it off” and keep on going or walking.
This question of attitude and disposition is still a challenge for me. In Philippians 2:5,8 Paul tells us that “Our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…who taking on the very nature of a servant humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on the cross!” Wow, now that is an attitude. A humble servant is able to do this if filled with the Holy Spirit. We will be like-minded, having the same love, doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but humility considering others better than ourselves. This may sound like a doormat, but I think of it more as a welcoming mat, full of hospitality. Note that hospitality is a gift of the Spirit that not all have. However, we can sure work on it. We are to serve one another and love one another. We may not always be washing others’ feet as John 13 describes of Jesus, but we will humble ourselves to try to be in relationship with others.
Christianity is about community and relationship, first with Jesus. Christ in us gives us the ability to have and build relationship for the kingdom of God. So as one pastor friend of mine said, “you are Christians, so go out and act like it.”