Have you ever suffered from a bad attitude — not just a short-term bad mood, but an all-encompassing negative view on life? When we neglect our relationship with Christ, our thoughts become influenced by our sinful human nature instead of being guided by the Holy Spirit. When we forget to draw on God's power to lead our hearts, we quickly succumb to bad attitudes. We become impatient and selfish. We whine when things do not go our way. We become dissatisfied with where God has placed us. We grumble against God's will for our lives. We complain about other believers and our spiritual leaders.
How quickly we forget the joy of our salvation. When we accepted Christ as our Savior, the Holy Spirit gave us overwhelming joy. Do you remember that feeling the day you became a Christian? Were you so overwhelmed with gratitude for God's love and mercy that you wanted to shout to the world what God had done for you? That bliss was never meant to be a one-time gift. God wants us to experience His joy every day for the rest of our lives. While our joy will never completely disappear, we must work to keep it strong.
At the core of our joy is our relationship with Christ and our obedience to Him. When our joy begins slipping and we begin to grumble against God, it is a sure sign that we are trying to do things our own way. We are no longer drawing on God's power, but are trying to rely on our own strength. As we drift further from Christ, joy decreases and misery increases.
A bad attitude is a significant enough problem when it affects our personal walk with Christ and steals our joy. But a far greater consequence of our grumbling is the effect it has on the nonbeliever. When we allow our bad attitudes to eclipse our joy, we not only hurt ourselves but our testimony for Christ. Who would be attracted to the Christian faith when Christians are miserable, complaining, and bitter? Why would someone want to come to a church when its members bicker, gossip, and backbite against each other?
Who would you rather be: the person who spreads misery or the person who spreads joy? As Christians we have a serious responsibility to witness for Christ. "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us" (2 Corinthians 5:20). Our negative testimony could have eternal consequences for someone who is searching for the Truth. We may think we are containing our grumbling and murmuring to ourselves, but the attitude of our hearts will show in how we treat others, the things we say, and in our actions. When we forget our joy, our testimony is no longer about the glory of Christ but about our own misery.
How do we live as positive testimonies for Christ? We show our faith through our conduct, the way we live, our obedience to Christ and in the joy that our relationship with our Creator brings us. As we follow Christ each day, we manifest the fruit of the Spirit and radiate our eternal joy. When we are walking in obedience to Him, He will continuously pour His power into our lives. The world will see the power of the Resurrection in us as we are transformed more and more each day in Christ-likeness. When His power is fully at work in us, our joy will be infectious, and others will want to know Jesus.
The apostle Paul told the Philippians, "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life — in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing" (Philippians 2:14-16).
When we are experiencing full joy, we cannot help but let that show outwardly to everyone around us. When we face trials and crises, we can continue forward in confidence and with joy, knowing Christ is with us. When we experience great successes, we can rejoice in the blessings that God has given us. Our gratitude and thanksgiving will overflow and show the world we worship a truly amazing and sovereign God.
The world is always watching us. Whether we want to be or not, all Christians are living testimonies who represent our Christ to the world. What will they see in you? A miserable, joyless faith? Or the light of Christ that brings unspeakable joy?
Excerpted from My Journal, a monthly devotional magazine from Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef.
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