• Richard Parrish

October Reflection: You Choose Your Attitude



When I was a child, my mother and I sometimes had lengthy conversations about my attitude. The length of these discussions depended on mom’s patience, but once her patience ran out, she only needed two words to finish the conversation. “Attitude adjustment!”

No amount of pleading, whining, complaining, or fussing was going to change mom. It only took two words to remind me: My happiness and well-being could—and would—require an attitude adjustment.

Paul wrote the Book of Philippians to the Christians in Philippi when he was in prison, which meant life wasn’t going well for him. Two women in the church in Philippi, Euodia and Syntyche, were creating dissension because of their disagreement, and they both needed to adjust their attitudes. Paul gave them some excellent advice:

Rejoice.


Focus on the source of joy. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4; emphasis mine). Joy is not found in adversity, but in the Lord. He is our delight and Hope.

Be reasonable.


“Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand.” (Philippians 4:5) The word “reasonableness” (ἐπιεικής) reflects a gentle, gracious, and forbearing attitude. We are reasonable when we refuse to speak evil of anyone and resist our desire to be quarrelsome.

Resist worry.


Paul doesn’t suggest that we stop caring, but he understood that anxiety eliminates trust in God. Jesus puts this in perspective in his discourse about anxiety: “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:27).

Redirect your thinking.


We have a choice about how—and what—we will think. “…Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Adjusting our attitude is a choice, even when life is not fair.

Questions for Reflection:


  • Am I inclined to complain, rather than rejoice? Why?

  • What’s my fear? Am I able to name it?

  • Am I willing to release my anxiety to God? What keeps me from doing so?

  • What are the things I have today for which I’m thankful?

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