In Part 1, I asked the question, What’s your attitude like? And I said that there are positive and negative attitudes, and one of the negative attitudes is looking back and wanting to live in the past. Your past may have been pleasant and nice, but you can’t stay there.
I want to refer now to what is called the ‘forward attitude’. This is a positive attitude—looking to the days ahead, or dreaming about the future.
How do you picture your tomorrows? Because regardless of what your past may have been, your future stretches out before you like a giant sketchpad waiting for you to make your mark:
- What is that picture going to be?
- What are your dreams for your life, for your family?
- Where do you want to be six months down the road, a year from now, five years, 10 years?
The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14 (CEV):
I don’t feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. I run towards the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done.
Paul had a tremendous forward-thinking attitude.
So we’ve got to have a forward attitude when it comes to this life, and when it comes to eternity. We will die one day—so keep your eyes on Jesus and on the promise of Heaven for when this life is over. In Hebrews 12:1-2 (CEV) the Bible tells us to “…get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won’t let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us. We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete. He endured the shame of being nailed to a cross, because he knew that later on he would be glad he did. Now he is seated at the right side of God’s throne”.
Downward and Upward Attitudes
Some people struggle with the ‘downward attitude’. You ever meet someone who is always down? It seems that they are constantly seasick on the journey of life. It doesn’t matter what happens, they know things are always going to get worse. They have a downward attitude. Don’t you just love being around people like that? We are not born pessimistic—unfortunately, we are trained in this fact. Lots of negative experiences turn many of us into pessimists.
Actually, there’s a story in the Old Testament about some pretty negative people—who, no matter how positive things really were, they could always point out the problems.
It’s after the Exodus from Egypt which I referred to yesterday and now the Israelites have come to the very edge of what they called the Promised Land—the land that God had promised to give to them. So in preparation for the people of God to move into that land, Moses sent 12 spies to do what spies do best: spy. And when they came back they had a glowing report of how fertile the land was and what a wonderful place it would be to live—and then they dropped the bombshell. They said:
But the people who live there are strong, and their cities are large and walled. Giants live there.
The other men said, “Those people are much too strong for us.” They started spreading rumours and saying, “We won’t be able to grow anything in that soil. And the people are like giants…They were so big that we felt as small as grasshoppers”. (Numbers 13:28, 31-33 – CEV)
They hadn’t heard of Philippians 2:14-15 (NLT): “Do everything without complaining and arguing so that no-one can criticize you”.
But we can have the ‘upward attitude’.
Moses sent spies into the Promised Land, and they came back with a really negative view. But the truth is, of the 12 spies that were sent, only 10 of them had that negative downward attitude. So what about the other two? Well, this is what Caleb and Joshua reported:
They said to all the people of Israel, “The land we travelled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey.” (Numbers 14:7-8 – NLT)
They were excited about the land and the potential. And they bolstered up their courage to move right into the land despite the downward attitudes of the other spies.
Interesting. Same land, same time frame, they saw the same things—and yet instead of a negative report they came back with a positive report. Why? Let’s try to be positive.