Wednesday, December 27, 2006

How's Your Attitude?

I remember reading that most women would say that mascara is a cannot-leave-the-house-without-it cosmetic. It’s lipstick for me. I will no doubt waft off to heaven one day with a nice shade of mocha frost or shimmering pink all over my lips (not my teeth, mind you... this is a paradise fantasy). So when we went to a friend’s Christmas party last week and I noticed one of the guests, a lovely middle-aged woman with olive-toned skin, wearing a stunning shade of red lipstick I had to comment.

“I just love that red lipstick you’re wearing!” I chirped.

“Revlon ‘Love that Red’ shade!” she chirped back.

“Oh,” I lamented, “if only I could wear red… I think I’m stuck with pink.”

“No,” she consoled, “you can wear red, too.”

“You think?” I said, contemplating my skin tone which is across between albino lab rat and cement dust.

“It’s an attitude,” she said.

I’ve been thinking about the “attitude” of red lipstick ever since. Really about attitudes in general.

When Christ became my Lord and Savior, I was given the gift of salvation and the promise of spending eternity in heaven with God. The Bible tells me I am a new creation in Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

(2 Cor 5:17)
This verse, written by the Apostle Paul, speaks to a transformation that takes place when we put our trust in Christ. We’re no longer standing on a quaking ridge that threatens to eternally separate us from God. Instead, we are settled on solid, unshakable ground and resting in the promise of a glorious eternal reality.

What this verse doesn’t say is that in an I-Dream-of-Jeannie “blink” we will be transformed from rusting-fender Jeeps to big, stylish Hummers behaviorally.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

(2 Cor 3:18)

This verse talks about purification as believers become more and more like Christ. Notice the progressive form of the verb (“are being transformed”) and the compound adverb (“ever-increasing”) modifying the word “glory.” The tenses in this verse suggest to us that we are in the midst of a process of becoming more like Christ. While our salvation is secure the instant we put our trust in Jesus Christ, our sanctification—how we grow to resemble Jesus—is a life-long journey.

I love the Bible verses that encourage us to lean on Christ. There's no safer place to be. But leaning on Christ isn’t synonymous with giving up. Or becoming Passive Polly out there flapping in the wind like a slowly shredding flag. We still need to try! All of us have enduring work to do on our attitudes.

Do you carry a grudge? (I do.)
Are you ever prideful? (I am.)
Is your heart pure? (No.)
Do your actions always match your words? (Always? Uh-uh.)
Do you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? (All of it?)
Do you love your neighbor as yourself? (Depends who you’re talking about…)

These are in large part attitude issues. Matters that go beyond the surface of what we say and do to how we think and feel. I thought about making a New Year’s Resolution this year to work on purifying my heart. But those annual "commitments" are more of a wink and a laugh. So I think I will go to the Lord in prayer on this one… each and every morning as I start the day:

“Dear Lord, help me with my attitude today… so that I might better glorify you… authentically and honestly… from the inside out… in all that I do.”

(Photo by brtsergio; see for restrictions.)


Jamey said...

Sarah, lately (ok for a long time) I have struggled with the guilt of past sin. I ask God for forgiveness, give it to Him only to wake up the next day feeling guilty and snatch it from His hands to lament about it for yet another day.

I can almost picture Him forgiving me one day and then me coming back to Him and saying...

Me: "God, rembember the sins I told you about yesterday?"

God: "No, Jamey, remember the deal - as far as the East from West, depths of the ocean, etc. I have forgotten."

Me: "Oh, well let me remind you...blah, blah, blah...and


Me: "Ok"

and walk away only to have the same conversation day after day (kind of like the Bill Murray version of Ground Hog Day). He has got to be getting sick of reliving my past.

AND THEN HE SHOWED ME! (oh, how He is good at that). During my BSF Bible Study on Romans we jumped over to Phillipians to talk about our living in the Spirit and our future glory. AND THERE IT WAS - just before the popular, much quoted Phillipians 3:14 "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." THERE WAS VERSE 3:13 ..."FORGETTING what is behind and straining toward what is ahead..."

I realized - more accurately He showed me - that if I want to live my life as a new creature in Christ, if I want to take hold of his promises and the plans He has for my life, if I want to live in the Spirit and have future glory I have got to move on and stop spinning my wheels in the mud of the past. If I can do Phillipians 3:13 then, and only then, can I do Phillipians 3:14.

I know that His prize is better than my pit.

So today I wear my red lipstick with the attitude of a new creature with renewed confidence in the direction of my relationship with my savior.

Sarah Onderdonk said...

Jamey! That is so so profound. I spoke at a women's retreat a while back and walked the group through an exercise called "Stars & Scars." It's an incredibly simple but revelatory personal inventory that gets at what motivates us and holds us back. Dr. Ramesh Richard (DTS prof) developed it. One of the things it's designed to do is help you understand that there's purpose in our past... in all that was good AND bad. At the end of the retreat, the organizers had a time of prayer and encouraged the women to write the most significant traumas of the past on a piece of paper and leave it at the foot of a tall wooden cross. It was an INCREDIBLY emotional time as people went about the symbolic act of letting go of guilt and pain.

Guilt is a headlining device of the devil... something he uses quite effectively to chain us to the past and keep us from being all that we can be for Christ. Jamey, I think I may try to do Stars & Scars on my blog... maybe in a few installments before my next semester starts. I would be really interested in your thoughts on it.

Venerable Professor Howard Hendricks would be very proud of you for locking onto the verse before Ph 3:14 as you explored some context. Look what you found!

Spinning wheels in the mud? What imagery! Reminds me of this AWESOME country western song I've been listening to...

Er... uh... well... yes, I did find myself quite by accident the other day on the local C&W radio station... I'm thinking I must have hit the wrong button or something... yes, that's it... it was the wrong button... and there it was...

Imagine that...