You open your Bible, eager to grow in your faith and become more like Christ. As you read, you notice that some biblical figures display less-than-ideal attitudes at times. While we should ultimately follow Jesus’ perfect example, seeing flaws in biblical heroes can help us identify areas for growth in our own lives. In this post, let’s explore some examples of bad attitudes in Scripture and what we can learn from them.
As Christians, we strive to pattern our lives after Jesus. He demonstrated perfect love, humility, compassion, and wisdom. However, even godly biblical figures sometimes struggled with less than Christlike attitudes.
Looking at their mistakes and flaws can teach us important lessons. We can identify areas where we too need to realign our hearts and minds with God’s truth. The Word of God shows us not just personalities to emulate but also problem attitudes to avoid.
Here are key takeaways on learning from bad attitudes in the Bible:
- Biblical figures were human and imperfect, just as we are. Seeing their struggles can help us have compassion for ourselves and others.
- Noticing problem attitudes helps us examine our own hearts and motivations.
- God uses even flawed individuals when they look to Him in faith. He can redeem any negative attitude.
- Scripture provides correction and training in righteousness when we humbly apply its teachings to our lives.
With humility and God’s help, we can overcome unhealthy attitudes. Let’s look now at some specific examples of bad attitudes among biblical figures and what they can teach us.
Elijah’s Self-Focus and Depression
After a great spiritual victory over the prophets of Baal, Elijah suddenly shifts into fear and despair when threatened by Jezebel. He runs away and asks God to let him die (1 Kings 19:1-4). God graciously ministers to Elijah in his distress. However, the great prophet’s attitude shows that even spiritual giants can struggle with fear, depression, and self-focus.
You may sometimes feel depressed like Elijah or very conscious of threats or challenges to yourself. Remember to fix your eyes on the Lord rather than your circumstances. Seek His strength and remind yourself of His faithfulness. God understands our struggles but wants us to trust His purposes and provision.
Jeremiah’s Cynicism and Complaining
Known as the weeping prophet, Jeremiah voiced his complaints to God frequently. Though God called him to deliver difficult messages, Jeremiah often responded with cynicism and self-pity. He wished God had not made him a prophet and accused God of deceiving him (Jeremiah 20:7-18). Yet God did not rebuke Jeremiah, instead encouraging him to turn to Him for strength.
When you feel tempted toward cynicism and complaining, know that God understands. He can handle your honest prayers. Turn to Him for help in maintaining faith and hope in His good plans. God may gently but firmly direct you away from unhealthy attitudes. Keep bringing your cares to the One who cares for you.
Jonah’s Judgmentalism and Pride
Jonah resisted God’s call to preach to the wicked people of Nineveh. In fact, he headed the opposite direction, filled with judgmentalism. He seemed more concerned with his own prophetic reputation than showing mercy to lost souls, a very prideful attitude (Jonah 1-4). Yet amazingly, God turned Jonah’s disobedience around to display His mercy to Nineveh and teach Jonah compassion.
It’s easy to judge others more harshly than ourselves and view their sins as worse than our own. Take care that spiritual pride doesn’t make you resistant to God’s merciful direction. Wherever He leads, follow in humble obedience. As He changes your heart, you’ll show His mercy and forgiveness to others.
The Disciples’ Misplaced Priorities and Power-Seeking
At times the disciples argued over who was greatest and sought prestigious positions in the kingdom. James and John even got their mother to ask if they could sit at Jesus’ right and left hands (Mark 10:35-45)! Jesus patiently but firmly corrected them, teaching that His followers should seek humility and service rather than status.
As disciples ourselves, we need to check that our priorities align with Jesus’ values. Are you tempted toward pride, power-seeking, or comparing yourself to others? Humble yourself before the Lord. Remember that He alone gives spiritual authority and assigns our roles for His glory. Seek to serve others more than seeking your own advancement.
Peter’s Pride and Impulsiveness
Though he ardently followed Jesus, Peter also displayed some unhealthy attitudes. He proudly insisted he would never fall away from Christ, then denied knowing Him three times! (Mark 14:27-31, 66-72) Peter also tended to speak and act impulsively, like when he cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus had to rebuke His beloved yet flawed disciple on several occasions, even calling Satan’s words out of Peter (Matthew 16:21-23).
Like Peter, our pride can make us susceptible to falls. Impulsiveness and rash decisions often lead to failure and regret. But with humility and willingness to accept correction, God can tame our tongues and transform our hearts. Let’s learn from Peter’s mistakes and listen more attentively to Christ’s instructions, yielding our impulses to the Spirit’s control.
The Early Church’s Favoritism and Judgmentalism
Despite Jesus’ teaching on mercy and inclusion, the early church struggled with favoritism and judgmentalism. The Greek believers complained when the Hebrew Christians were favored in food distribution (Acts 6:1). Peter and Paul both had to confront the tendency to judge Gentile believers for not following Jewish ceremonial laws (Galatians 2:11-16). James challenged believers not to give preference to the rich over the poor in their fellowship (James 2:1-13).
As human beings, we can easily fall into favoritism, prejudice, and judgmental attitudes. Pray for the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to any subtle ways you might think or act with unfair bias or judgmentalism toward others. Extend the same gracious patience and love to others that Christ has given you. See each person as dearly loved, known and welcomed by the Father.
Martha’s Anger and Anxiety
When Jesus visited their home, Mary sat attentively at His feet while Martha busied herself with serving. Frustrated by having to work alone, Martha came to Jesus with an accusing tone. But He gently told her she was worried about lesser things while Mary had chosen the greater need of listening to Him (Luke 10:38:42).
When anxious or overwhelmed, we can lose sight of what’s most important. Consider whether resentment or anxiety sometimes leads you to lash out at loved ones like Martha did. Bring your stresses to the Lord. Ask for grace to sit calmly like Mary at the Savior’s feet. His peace and presence are greater than any temporal concerns.
As we’ve seen, Scripture honestly portrays the bad attitudes occasionally displayed even by devoted followers of God. Elijah despaired, Jeremiah complained, Jonah judged, Peter denied, and Martha worried. The early church battled favoritism. The disciples argued over greatness.
Yet through it all, God demonstrated His patience and love. He kept molding imperfect servants into His likeness, just as He faithfully refines us. The Bible provides many helpful lessons on attitudes to avoid and build maturity, if we remain humble and teachable.
Above all, fix your eyes on Christ, the perfect model of virtue. By His grace we can overcome unhealthy attitudes that once seemed entrenched. As we stay connected to Him through daily study, prayer and fellowship with other believers, His glorious image replaces our sin-marred reflections. Our attitudes become more and more like His – characterized by the fruit of His Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.