Having the right attitude is so important as a Christian. Your attitude affects every area of your life – your relationships, your work, your walk with God. A bad attitude can hurt you and push people away, while a good attitude can help you succeed and draw others to Christ. In this post, we’ll explore what God’s Word says about attitudes, the danger of bad attitudes, and how to cultivate the right attitude as a follower of Jesus.
As Christians, God calls us to have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5). That means thinking and acting as Jesus would in every situation. One area this affects is our attitude. A bad attitude – like pride, bitterness, or ingratitude – leads to sin and dishonors God. A good attitude – like joy, peace, and thankfulness – honors God and blesses others.
Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV) says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Our attitudes flow directly from our thoughts and beliefs. That’s why we need to carefully guard our minds, making sure our attitudes align with God’s truth.
So what are some wrong attitudes the Bible warns against? And what types of attitudes does God want us to develop instead? Let’s explore what God’s Word says.
3 Key Takeaways on Bad Attitudes
- Bad attitudes like bitterness, envy, and pride lead to sin and dishonor God.
- God commands us to put off all negative attitudes and put on attitudes like joy, peace, and kindness.
- Renewing our minds through Scripture helps transform our attitudes to be more like Christ.
Bad Attitudes to Avoid
The Bible warns against harboring certain harmful attitudes that lead to sin and death. Here are some wrong attitudes Scripture tells us to reject:
Bitterness happens when we hold onto anger and refuse to forgive others. The book of Hebrews (12:15 NKJV) warns, “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.” Bitterness defiles many – it not only hurts us but causes trouble for others as well.
We see this play out in the story of Joseph. After being sold into slavery by his brothers, he chose not to repay evil for evil. Joseph told his brothers in Genesis 50:19-20 (NKJV): “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Joseph’s attitude was one of forgiveness, not bitterness.
As Ephesians 4:31 (NKJV) instructs, we must “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” Bitterness has no place in the Christ-follower’s life. We are to actively reject this attitude that poisons our souls.
Envy happens when we desire what others have – their possessions, talents, or social status. Envy is rooted in discontentment with what God has given us. James 3:14-16 (NKJV) calls envy selfish and demonic: “But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.”
Proverbs 14:30 (NKJV) describes envy this way: “A sound heart is life to the body, But envy is rottenness to the bones.” When we harbor envy, it rots us from the inside out. God calls us to instead be content in all circumstances, rejoicing when others are blessed.
Pride is an inflated view of ourselves and our accomplishments. Pride causes us to take credit rather than giving God glory. As Proverbs 16:18 (NKJV) warns, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.”
James 4:6 (NKJV) tells us, “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” When we are prideful, we push against God’s will. Only in humility do we receive God’s grace.
The book of Obadiah pronounces God’s judgment on the pride of Edom. These verses describe the danger of prideful attitudes: “The pride of your heart has deceived you…For your violence against your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever” (Obadiah 1:3, 10 NKJV). Our prideful attitudes always deceive us and harm others.
This is just a sampling of harmful attitudes we must reject as followers of Christ. Other bad attitudes the Bible warns against include greed, unforgiveness, selfish ambition, and arrogance. Now let’s look at the types of attitudes God wants us to cultivate instead.
Good Attitudes to Cultivate
By the power of the Holy Spirit, God transforms our hearts and renews our minds to be more like Jesus. Here are some Christlike attitudes Scripture commands us to put on:
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV) instructs us to, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Gratitude acknowledges all we have comes from God’s hand. Gratitude frees us from complaining when life gets difficult. It allows us to see God’s blessings even in the trials.
The book of Psalms overflows with gratefulness to God. “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 107:1 NKJV). When our hearts overflow with thankfulness, it changes our perspective. Gratitude draws us closer to our gracious Father.
While gratitude is being thankful for what God has done, joy is delighting in who God is. Joy arises from our relationship with Him. James 1:2-3 (NKJV) tells us, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” By embracing a joyful attitude, we can face hardship with confidence, trusting God’s purpose and plan.
Nehemiah 8:10 (NKJV) encourages, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Joy fortifies us from the inside out. As we rejoice in the Lord, He renews our strength to serve Him. The enemy can’t steal the joy Jesus gives us.
Peace is a quiet confidence that God is in control, no matter the circumstances. The apostle Paul instructs in Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV), “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Rather than being anxious, we can turn to God in prayer, trusting Him to guard our hearts with peace.
Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV) promises, “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” As we fix our thoughts on God, perfect peace calms our souls. This peace reflects the very presence of Jesus living within us.
In our selfish humanity, we tend toward unkindness – irritation, harsh words, impatience with others. But God desires us to live in tenderhearted kindness towards one another. Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV) urges, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Our kindness should reflect the mercy Christ showed us on the cross.
Colossians 3:12 (NKJV) describes what it means to “put on” kindness: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.” As we clothe ourselves with Christ each day, He transforms our attitudes to become more like His.
Renewing Our Minds
So how do we put off negative attitudes like bitterness or envy and put on attitudes like joy and peace? The key is renewing our minds in God’s truth. Romans 12:2 (NKJV) teaches, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” As we immerse ourselves in Scripture, the Spirit renews and transforms us. God’s Word shapes our thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes to align with His.
Psalm 1:1-3 (NKJV) promises blessings when we meditate on God’s Word daily: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”
As we plant ourselves in Scripture, rejecting ungodly lies, God nourishes our roots. We become fruitful, prospering in the life-giving waters of His Word.
Through studying the Bible, we encounter Jesus. We get to know His thoughts, His heart, His character. The more we fix our eyes on Jesus in Scripture, the more our attitudes are transformed to match His. Bad attitudes are replaced with good attitudes that honor God and bless others.
Your attitudes direct the course of your life. Bad attitudes lead to sin and death, while good attitudes align your heart with God. Through studying the Bible, we can reject harmful attitudes like bitterness and envy. By God’s Spirit, He grows in us attitudes like gratitude, joy, and kindness. What needs to change about your attitude today? Humble yourself before God, asking Him to renew your mind. Open your Bible, drawing near to Jesus. As you meditate on Scripture, the Holy Spirit will transform your attitudes to be more like Christ. Then you will live out the glorious freedom and purpose God has planned for you.