Have this Attitude
15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; 16 however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. NASB
Let me begin by going over who is to have the attitude Paul asks us to have.
He says, “Let us therefore, as many as are perfect,...”
How many of you would claim to be perfect? Raise your hand if you think you are perfect. No one? Notice I did not raise my hand.
So that takes us off the hook, right? Paul is speaking to people who are perfect, not to me, right?
This is the best translation I know: The New American Standard Bible. The King James version says perfect as well. But notice The New King James Version – an updated King James version – says mature. The New International Version says mature. The New International Readers Version says “ All of us who are grown up in the faith...”
So, how many of us would like to think we are mature? I believe that is what Paul meant.
So, to those of us who should be mature in our faith, Paul tells us to Have this attitude.
Attitude. What is attitude? When we say a person has an attitude, that is not usually a compliment is it? “He has an attitude.” Not usually taken as a compliment, I don't think.
But what is an attitude. There are five definitions of attitude in my Webster's dictionary put out in 2004. Definition # 5 is “a cocky or arrogant manner”. # 4 is “a negative or hostile state of mind”. I think those two definitions are often what we mean when we say someone has an attitude. But I think the definition we are looking for is close to the other 3 definitions, #1 is “Posture”; #2 is “a mental position or feeling with regard to a fact or state” and # 3 is “the position of something in relation to something else.”
Those who fly airplanes talk about the attitude of the plane. There is altitude – the distance above the ground and then there is attitude – the position of the plane in relation to the surface of the ground. This gives us an idea of what attitude is that Paul is talking about.
What is our attitude, our position or feeling with regard to a fact or state?
This is the second time Paul told the Philippians to have a certain attitude. The first was back in chapter two. Phil 2:5-9
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
He told them, and us, to have the attitude that Christ had when he gave up His position in heaven and submitted to becoming a human being, going so far as submitting to death on a cross. We are to humble ourselves and be obedient to God even to the point of dying for Him if He so wills it.
It is the attitude that Christ demonstrated in the garden of Gethsemane when he prayed, Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, but not my will, thy will be done.
It is the attitude expressed by one of our own, when he said about his health condition, “it is in God's hands.” We are to submit ourselves to God and be His humble servants, accepting whatever He has for us. We are not to demand that God do what we ask. We are to seek Him in life, not go our own way.
So what attitude is Paul wanting us, who are growing in our faith, who are becoming mature Christian's... What attitude is he now saying we should adopt?
He says we are to join in following his example and men like him. Men like Timothy and Epaphroditus. Men who are reaching toward the goal of the resurrected life. He spoke of dying with Christ and being raised to new life. He spoke of pressing on toward the future. Forgetting what lies behind and pressing on toward the resurrected life.
Jesus spoke of denying self and taking up our cross.
Let me put it this way. We are to abandon the attitudes of the world and take up the attitudes of the kingdom of God. We are to set aside our own purposes and begin living out God's purpose for our lives. Paul indicates that he has not perfectly attained to this goal, but he will not give up and quit on striving to reach it. He will keep going and bringing his life into the proper relationship with God's plan and purpose.
This is what we are to do. It boils down to this: Living as if God really is the Lord of our lives.
The Holy Spirit will guide us and teach us, but we must continually allow Him to do so. We need to offer ourselves as living sacrifices. We are to die to living our lives as if we are the only one that matters in life.
What Paul is talking about is working at submitting to the Lordship of Christ, bringing our lives into line with the Great Commandment to Love God with all our heart mind, soul, and strength.
Loving God, like loving our spouses, is not about feeling a certain way. It is about our purpose, our attitude toward Him, or them.
Loving God means we accept Him as He is. He accepts us, and calls us to follow Him, to allow Him to lead us. Loving one another means we accept one another and help each other to bring ourselves into alignment with God's will. Loving our spouses has to do with our commitment to seek what is best for them, not what is best for us, or what we want. What is best for them is to know God and to begin living with Him as Lord of their lives.
Am I beginning to sound like a broken record? Have I been hitting on these basics so much you are getting tired of them?
Say with me: First: “God loves me.” Second: “He is my Lord.”
Our attitudes are our relationships to the things and people around us. Our position in relation to something else. For Christians, the something else we are to align ourselves with is God. He has made it pretty simple for us. We are to love Him. To love Him means we are to seek what is best for Him. That means we are to worship Him and remind ourselves and one another how great He is. This is praise. This is thanksgiving. This is worship.
Offering ourselves as living sacrifices, is giving our lives over to God and accepting whatever He sends us with thanks and praise. Committing ourselves to obey Him even when it hurts, even when we do not like what He is leading us to to, or what He is taking us through in life.
This was what Paul was talking about. He tells us to have the attitude he had, to follow him as he followed Christ, was another way he put it elsewhere.
It is okay to acknowledge how we feel and what we want. We are told to make our requests known to God, but then we are to submit to Him and accept whatever He gives us.
This is what maturity in the Christian faith is like.
We learn what we want and then we turn it over to Him.
In our relationships with others, in our financial situations, in our attitudes about church, in our attitudes about what we own and our money we are to bring ourselves into alignment with what God says about them.
We made our choice when we accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. The big choice has been made. Now we are to make the daily choices, the things that come up and the Lord begins to deal with us about. We must continually choose to live out the Lordship of God. Trusting His Love and His Lordship.
The hard part is making the decision that we will follow Christ. Now it is a matter of following Him in the little decisions that come up day in and day out. Paul said it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. We no longer belong to ourselves. Our purpose is to follow Him in every decision we make.
When we do this, others will see and be challenged to follow Him as well.
Paul said: “have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you”.
If your attitude about anything is not what God wants it to be, God will help you to see that and to change. You are not in this alone. You can trust Him to lead you and help you to see the truth and follow Him as He leads you.
Jesus said that if anyone is willing to obey the truth, His Spirit would help him to know His will.
The first step is committing yourself to obeying no matter what. When we have made that commitment God will help us to know the truth and we will then be free to follow the truth.
So what have we learned today?
When Paul speaks of perfection in this passage and others, it is not perfection in the sense of no defects or mistakes, but rather, a completeness, a maturity. It is about being what God intended us to be. When an apple tree is mature or complete, it produces apples; that is, it reproduces, it produces the seeds that will produce other apple trees. When we are mature in Christ we begin to reproduce and share the seed that brought transformation in our lives, the seed of the Word. If we are mature in Christ we will adopt the attitudes of Christ.
Attitude is our position in relation to something else. What is our position in relation to God? What is our position in relation to other people? The correct attitude to have with God is to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. The correct attitude to have with other people is to love them as well.
When we love someone we seek their best interest above our own best interest. When we love God we seek to glorify Him and honor Him in all we say, do, and think. When we love others, we seek to help them adopt the proper attitude toward God and others. We can do this. It is what we were made for. It is what He wants for us.
He loves me and He is my Lord. This sums up the proper attitude toward God. Now we can live out what that means for us in our daily lives.