Step through the check out line at your local supermarket and you are brought face-to-face with the reality. When you place an order at the drive-thru at your favorite fast food restaurant, you know that those minding the bottom line are enlightened, as well. Buy a new automobile and you will be astounded by the opportunities you have to select expensive add-ons, once the deal is struck. We are not surprised to learn that this is the most profitable aspect of the new car business. What is the common thread in these scenarios? It’s the impulse purchase. Marketers of every stripe and flavor have developed highly sophisticated techniques for getting customers to add a couple of items to the basket; try a mandarin chicken salad; or add-on a rear spoiler and wiper.
Now, imagine how you would react if the staticy voice coming from the speaker at the drive-thru said, “You don’t want to order anything else, do you?” Imagine how it would sound if the skilled salesperson sitting across the desk from you looked up and said, “You don’t want to purchase any of these over-priced add-ons, do you?” You’d probably be utterly shocked. You’d probably be glad. You might think there was something wrong with these people. Their supervisors certainly would. One sales manager I know would likely say that these people are in need of a check up from the neck up, an attitude adjustment.
If we have heard it once, we have heard it a thousand times: Attitude more than aptitude determines altitude. It is more than a maxim. In life, we will climb no higher than the heights to which we aspire. One wise sage has reportedly stated: Success or failure in any undertaking is caused more by mental attitude than mental capacity.” These assertions seem to be echoed through the Holy Spirit’s counsel through the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:4-9. Following an exhortation to rejoice in the Lord always, two means by which we can maintain an attitude which soars above life’s difficulties are presented. These are: 1) Prayerful thanksgiving which permits us to enter into a safe place where our hearts and minds are guarded by the peace of God; and 2) Positive thought practices, which allow the peace of God to be our constant life-companion.
Attitudes determine altitudes, because they produce actions. As recorded in Luke 6:45, Jesus said, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Jesus also stated that a tree is known for its fruit (Matthew 12:33).
So, what does this mean? Well, quite obviously, it means that we must watch what we allow to dwell in our hearts. In this regard Proverbs 4:23 reverberates through the ages, giving us this solemn charge: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” This is where the words of Philippians 4:8 take on their practical value. We have something by which we can measure the quality of the thoughts which shape our attitudes.
We can imagine these categories of thought as file folders. When we become aware that a thought is taking root in our hearts and beginning to shape our attitudes and actions, each of us should ask, “Is this true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy?” If it is, then give it a permanent home in the appropriate mental category. If it won’t fit in one of these categories, then assigned it to the wastebasket. This doesn’t ensure that the thought automatically gets dumped. But, it is far less likely to shape our lives, because it has been weighed in the balance and found wanting. Additionally, our thoughts are not encumbered by so much garbage, so it is far more likely our attitudes will be positive and, therefore, we will soar to greater heights in God’s service.
© Bill Williams, October 12, 2006