Chuck Swindoll offers this timeless insight, “The longer I live the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearances, giftedness and skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding our attitude we will embrace for the day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.”
We are in charge of our attitudes!
Believing this statement, the Apostle Peter wrote the following words to those of Jesus followers who had been suffering for their faith. Suffering from being scattered by persecution and suffering from the false teachers who were scoffing their foundational beliefs. Peter knew that when we experience suffering it could play with our mindset and mess with our thinking. So he calls them to take charge of their attitudes.
“Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.” (II Peter 3:1-2 NIV)
Peter calls us to ‘wholesome thinking’. In other terms he appeals to us to take charge of our attitude. This word wholesome is only used in the bible twice (cf. Philippians 1:10). It communicates the idea of purity or sincerity or an unsullied mind. It is a mind that has been sun tested, meaning it has been fully exposed and found pure when examined by the sun’s light. He pleads with them to rise above their dire circumstances, ongoing doubts and crippling fears. He calls them to reject to the false teaching they are encountering and to cling to truth of God’s word.
The Keys to Wholesome Thinking
How do we get to thinking in a wholesome manner or taking charge of our attitude? Here are a few keys towards wholesome thinking.
We all need reminders. We are a very forgetful people. How easy is it to forget that God is with us and to forget his promises in the word of God. Peter is now writing his second letter to those who love Jesus and are suffering for it. He says these letters serve as “reminders” of the precious truth of God. This is just the opposite of the scoffers who, “deliberately forget” (2 Peter 3:5 NIV). These false teachers willfully rejected the promises of God’s word and pretended to be ignorant of its’ basic teachings. We are not only forgetful people, but we can also be willful people. We choose what to believe and how to act on those beliefs. This is why we need to feed our souls daily with the word of God and to live in fellowship with a church where we receive clear teaching of God’s word. Receiving a good balance of doctrinal teaching and practical exhortations will help us to think biblically and allow our lives to be gripped by the gospel.
We all need a wake up call. Peter is reminding the people so that he can wake them up. The meaning behind stimulate is to be aroused or awakened in our thinking. Too many Christians are mentally drowsy making them spiritually sluggish. Suffering can cause a drowsiness to overcome us and yet God wants our minds sharp, focused and alert. I can image Peter reflecting on the time that Jesus gave him a wake up call when he found him sleeping with the other disciples, “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” And then exhorted them to, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41). When was the last time you encountered a wake up call, spiritually, morally, ethically or missionally? A life following Jesus will be filled with moments of awaking that lead to wholesome thinking.
We are not to just intellectually remember the teachings of God’s word, but to recall them volitionally and to act upon them in faith and obedience. Truth without application leads only to mental stimulation, but truth applied leads to spiritual transformation. Truth that is not applied appropriately often leads to pride, whereas truth humbly received leads to wholesome thinking. Applying the truth of God into all of our life situations is essential to following Jesus. Peter encourages us to think like the prophets, to live out teachings of Jesus and to see the world through the eyes of the apostles.
As a leader, the challenges to my attitude are continual. Dealing with setbacks, disappointments, stretching relationships and uncooperative people can mess with anyone’s mindset. Yet our God calls us to rise above and to resist the cynicism that can contaminate our thinking.
Whether good or bad, positive or negative, attitudes are easy to spot! God has given us each the ability and the tools to reign in our thoughts and ultimately to take charge of our attitudes!
• What are some of the triggers that send you into a bad attitude?
• How are you intentionally filling your mind with reminders of God’s teaching?
• When is the last time you memorized a large portion of scripture?
• When have you shared a portion of scripture God used to give you a wake up call in the last year?
• What truth of scripture is challenging your attitude or behavior?
By Gary Rohrmayer