Have you ever felt a "bad attitude" just creeping up on you? You are working away, living life, and almost without notice, you find yourself thinking thoughts you should not, responding curtly, or managing to "disengage" from the circumstances completely. Get behind a slow moving car when you are late to your next appointment and see what you will imagine about the driver in front of you! Never once do you stop to consider they may have just left the hospital where they said their last good-byes to a loved one, or that they are working hard to get the little bit of horsepower out of their overly used vehicle simply because they cannot afford anything with more "pep". Sometimes what is at the core of the issue is "US" - not someone else! We have allowed the wrong attitude to form - usually about US, not the other person! When we do this, it "colors" how we interpret everything else in life.
What you say about yourself means nothing in God’s work. It’s what God says about you that makes the difference. (2 Corinthians 10:18 The Message)
Whenever we feel superior to another - it affects how we view the other person. When we feel like we have less stature, value, or importance than the other person - we put ourselves down and cannot see any "value" in what it is we have to contribute. What we "think" about ourselves affects how we deal with other people, doesn't it? So, if we have "stinking thinking" about US, then it colors all we think about OTHERS.
We get all "attitudinal" about others when we find ourselves to be in some way more important, or superior, to another. Playing the superiority game is dangerous business, though. It often stems from a root of pride which we just have not dealt with in the God expects. We haven't allowed him to help us form the right attitudes about US, so we have wrong attitudes about OTHERS. Measure yourself against any other standard than Christ and you have a faulty measuring device! What God gave us in the example of Christ made flesh, dwelling among mankind, is priceless. It allowed us to "picture" the attitudes he desires, the behaviors right attitudes produce, and the heart toward others only he can give.
There are a whole lot of things which go into making us and others who we are. For example, we have different parents. The influence of the various parents we have makes for a variety of different values - similar, but not likely "spot on" as we "compare" one person to another, right? Add normal mental development to parental influence in our lives (or the lack thereof), and we will find some who have creative imaginations, others with strong abilities to reason and reflect. If this is not enough to set us all out as different, we can add such influences as how quickly, or slowly, our physical development occurs. Some are "early bloomers", struggling with hormone "issues" way ahead of others. Some are "late bloomers", seemingly taking forever to just show any signs of "development". All these things, and more, add up to help us form attitudes about others and ourselves. Anywhere along the line, we can form misguided thoughts about ourselves!
Relationships are just difficult stuff! We cannot "disengage" from the influences of how we developed, so we bring all this "stuff" into the mix of any relationship we form. If it is with another, we find out just how "different" two people can be. But...when we bring all our "stuff" into the mix of relating with God, we often find we have a warped impression of what God thinks about us! We allow what we have come to believe about ourselves, because of the influence of our own minds and the influence of others, to "color" what we believe God thinks about us.
This brings us back to our passage today. Paul reminds us of the importance of not relying upon what we (or others) say about US - listen to what God says! To understand what he says about us, we have been given some "tools" because we don't just sit across from God on the sofa, take his hand, and look into his eyes as we communicate with each other! It would sometimes be so much easier if we did! The Word of God is the primary "tool" we have been give to allow us to search out what God says about how he feel about us, what he has committed to do on our behalf, and how he manages the lives of those he loves. If we neglect to get the "right" perspective found there, we often live with lots and lots of "wrong" perspective!
Wrong perspective colors everything we say and do. Just as expected, getting the "right" perspective is not always easy. We have to allow what we have come to "accept" or "believe" about ourselves to be challenged. This is the first step toward gaining "right" perspective! When we stop holding onto the wrong beliefs, we are open to taking on the new ones. Sometimes we need the second "tool" God gives us in order to help us with this one - the tool of wise counsel. I heard my pastor describe this as someone who is living by the standards laid out in scripture. I don't expect us to find many who "live it all perfectly", but there are wise individuals who are headed in the right direction who we need to help us get perspective sometimes. What makes them "powerful" in our quest for the right perspective is their ability to see us as we "display" ourselves. Since we don't see ourselves very well, we need others to help us see us as we "put ourselves on display".
When we find out what scripture has to say about how God sees and values us, coupled with the wisdom of those who are walking this out with God everyday, we are accessing "tools" which will unlock the wrong beliefs we have formed. When we submit these to God, we then are opened to receiving the truth about US. When we start seeing ourselves as God sees us, we begin to see others as God sees them! Just sayin....