Winston Churchill once said "attitude is a small thing that makes a big difference."
What is amazing about that quote isn't the words themselves but when they were said. Churchill lived during a time when the world seemed at its darkest. Humanity was at war, for the second time. An Axis of Evil was spreading across the globe like a blanket. Millions were being slaughtered. Children were being gassed to death. Old men and women were used as slaves. Entire countries were turning a blind eye, or joining in the evil. Churchill's own countrymen were running from the cities, abandoning their jobs and homes believing that all hope was lost.
But for Churchill, it all came down to attitude. He knew that positive thinking was most necessary when the world was on the brink of being overcome by moral darkness. Despite the hopelessness around him, he championed a vision for hope and freedom.
We may not be facing a world war, but the war Christians fight is far more serious. Though we've been saved by Christ, we are surrounded by evil and disappointment. It crawls into our churches, our jobs, and our families. It plants the seeds of negativity in our minds, clouding out our ability to see God's marvelous working in the World. I am convinced negativity has become one of Satan's most effective tools at keeping God's people from living victoriously for the King.
Negativity is the opposite of the Gospel and is contrary to the character of God. Paul even refers to God as "the God of endurance and encouragement" (Romans 15:5). This is the same God who "works all things together for the good of those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). This is the same God that we are called to imitate (1 Thessalonians 1:6). God is the source of joy, hope, and love, and therefore one who has the presence of God in his or her life must necessarily be marked by those attributes. Why, then, do Christians continue to struggle with negative thinking? Why are we prone to becoming disillusioned, angry, complaining, bitter, and joyless?
The only answer is that we at times find ourselves convinced by the arguments of the Enemy. Satan clouds our mind with everything that is wrong and hopeless. He fills our minds with doubt and our hearts with bitter thoughts.
The apostle Paul recognized that there is an ongoing battle for the mind of believers. Satan wants to control how we think, because then he can control how we feel and behave. As believer's, we are called to wage battle against Satan for the control of our minds. This is why Paul told the Philippian believers that "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" (Philippians 4:8).
In other words, Jesus wants you to call out negative thoughts and intentionally replace them with positive ones.
Are you tempted to see what wrong with your church? Do you find your focusing increasingly on the rebellion in your teenager? Is your mind consumed with the rudeness of your employer? Perhaps you are to the point where you can no longer sit through a sermon without making a list of everything your pastor said that was wrong or how he isn't as good as the TV preacher you've come to love. Maybe you are increasingly despondent because your husband isn't living up to your expectations. However it is manifesting itself in your life, if negativity is beginning to mark your life than Satan is currently winning the battle.
Some months ago I came under deep conviction that Satan was winning the battle for my mind. I could see, accurately I think (or at least I think it is accurate) all that was wrong around me. But I didn't like the person I was becoming. But regardless of how accurate my information was, my attitude was far from that which honored the Lord, and because of this I was missing the marvelous work that God was doing around me.
Maybe you can truly see the negative. Great. But recognize there is nothing uniquely Christian about focusing on the negative. Actually, by definition, that is about a pagan as we can get. Fight the battle against the Enemy's negative attitudes, and instead replace them with every everything that is good, noble, wonderful, and praiseworthy.
- Commit to praising God for the wonderful work he is doing in your Church.
- Praise him for the moments of connection and laughter you have with your teenage children.
- Thank him for the spiritual gifts and salvation he has brought to those who trouble you.
- Be joyous for the beautiful smile of your spouse.
- Delight in the fact that a remnant in the younger generation are growing in their faith.
There are thousands of negatives around you, but consume your mind with the positives. Fill it with the joy of God's presence and the remarkable works he are doing. He is the God of endurance and encouragement, therefore joyously endure and be boldly encouraging.