Attitudes Are Really Important
Two young brothers were arguing at the dinner table. One had gotten so angry he jumped up but his mother told him to sit down. He reluctantly sat down but then protested to his parents that he was still standing up on the inside. To try and follow God without a right heart attitude is like the child who was told to sit down but still standing up on the inside.
There have been times when I have tried to do things by gritting my teeth and depending on ‘willpower’ to give me success. I can do this for a short while but sooner or later I find I crash and burn. Even when I am doing this I am hating it every step of the way. I have also tried to do this when ‘following God’. This outward forcing of a form of obedience is totally foreign to true Christianity. The basis of true Christianity is a heart that loves Jesus and wants to do the will of God. It is not forced but a willing surrender. On this foundation, there are times when a Christian chooses to do what is difficult and hard but it is from a willing heart not an unreal outward form of obedience.
So what are the attitudes of the heart that we can have towards Jesus?
Wise Men came from the East to worship Him. (Matthew 2:2)
How wholehearted is our devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ? The reality of our hearts are shown by our actions, (James 2:26)126 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so, faith apart from works is dead.. True Christianity flows from a hearts response to the Lord Jesus Christ. Anything that is not rooted in such a heart response leads to legalism and dead religion. We are not victims of our hearts choices – we can change what our heart is feeling by the choices we make. The more we choose to focus on the Lord Jesus Christ the more our heart is moved wholeheartedly toward Him, (Revelation 2:4, 5)24 But I have this against you, that you left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I am coming to you swiftly, and will move your lampstand out of its place unless you repent..
If a right attitude is a heart that worships Jesus then it is important to know what God means by worship. The Wise Men worshipped Him opening their treasures, (Matthew 2:11). We could define worship as bringing our treasures to Jesus. This is the best attitude of all toward Him, (John 12:3)33 Therefore Mary took a pound of ointment of pure nard, very precious, and anointed Jesus’s feet and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment..
They presented gold, frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:12)
Gold is likened to a word fitly spoken, (Proverbs 25:11)411 A word fitly spoken
is like apples of gold in settings of silver.. Thus the words that proceed out of our mouths concerning Jesus are an important aspect of our worship, (Psalms 19:14)514 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
Yahweh, my rock, and my redeemer.. Lots of people talk a lot about themselves or their churches. True worshippers talk much more about Jesus pointing others to Him and not themselves.
Frankincense is so named from its whiteness. Whiteness is linked with holiness and righteousness, (Revelation 7:14)6They washed their robes, and made them white in the Lamb’s blood. . Worshipping Him in holiness is very important, (Psalms 96:9)79 Worship Yahweh in holy array.
Tremble before him, all the earth.. If we claim to follow Jesus we must love what He loves. Jesus loves what is right. We only fool ourselves if in secret we love things that He hates. We are true to who we are in secret more than in public. Let us not deceive ourselves with our own Public Relations.
Myrrh is linked to suffering, it was used to prepare the dead for burial. There is a worship of God that can only come about in our sufferings, (Revelation 2:8-11)88 “To the angel of the assembly in Smyrna write:
“The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life says these things:
9 “I know your works, oppression, and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews, and they are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Don’t be afraid of the things which you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested; and you will have oppression for ten days. Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. He who overcomes won’t be harmed by the second death.. How we respond to Jesus when things are difficult and hurt is often a better indication of where our hearts are.
Herod and Jerusalem were troubled (Matthew 2:3)
The word trouble means to be stirred or agitated. Proclaiming Jesus can result in people being troubled or in turmoil. The idea that we make people feel comfortable with the message of Christ is un-Biblical, (Matthew 10:34-36)934 “Don’t think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn’t come to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to set a man at odds against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 A man’s foes will be those of his own household.. The good news of Jesus causes offence. Whilst we should seek to not be offensive we must realise that to be true to the message people will at times be offended. Jesus offended many. Can we expect to follow Him and not cause offence?
The Chief Priests and Scribes had knowledge. (Matthew 2:4-6)
We must not mistake knowledge of Jesus for a heart’s response. The devils believe but their response is not godly, (James 2:19)1019 You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also believe and shudder.. I have to keep reminding myself that just because I have a head knowledge of what is right doesn’t mean I am putting it into practice. It is so easy to be self-deceived. Even worse when we teach people what we aspire to become but are not in practice, our teaching then becomes very distorted because it is not balanced by the reality of what we are actually doing.
Herod inquired diligently (Matthew 2:7)
This was, however, a false diligence that masked a murderous intent. There are many who appear to be diligent for Christ but this is false, (Matthew 7:22-23)1122 Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ 23 Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’. Not everyone who responds to our witness concerning Jesus is sincere in their response. People have many agendas. For example, where persecution is taking place some pretend to be interested in Jesus so they can find ammunition to persecute Christians.
The Wise Men searched diligently (Matthew 2:8)
We should also search diligently for Jesus. A wholehearted seeking after Him results in our encountering Him, (Jeremiah 29:13)1213 You shall seek me, and find me when you search for me with all your heart.. Is the pursuit of Jesus really important to me? Is this a hobby or a way of life? Is He my chief delight or a duty I reluctantly go along with?
The Wise Men rejoiced with exceeding great joy. (Matthew 2:10)
When we wholeheartedly pursue Jesus we discover what a great joy and delight it is to find Him. We often are not joyous because we are double-minded and half-hearted, (Psalm 16:11)1311 You will show me the path of life.
In your presence is fullness of joy.
In your right hand, there are pleasures forevermore.. I find the things I really invest my time and attention in become joyful to me. For example, when I first began learning to play the piano it was hard going, though with some enjoyment. As the years have gone by it has become increasingly rewarding. A key to joy in something is wholeheartedness.
Let us determine to seek the Lord with a whole heart and a right attitude.
What attitudes do have towards Jesus?
How can bad or hard-hearted attitudes be changed?
How will better attitudes change the way our Christianity works out in practice?