CORRECT ATTITUDES TOWARDS GOD’S DISCIPLINE
To have our character developed into the likeness of Jesus Christ is much more important than escaping the afflictions that we experience in this life. To the extent that we support these afflictions in the present, God will develop the character of Jesus Christ within us.
Our attitudes and reactions to these circumstances that God uses to discipline us with, reveal whether we accept God’s dealing in our lives or not. We must develop certain attitudes in reaction to these tests:
Prayer (James 5:13)
James asked is any one among you suffering? Whenever we sense that we are going through a time of testing our first reaction should be to pray. We should ask God to reveal to us what he wants us to learn through the situation. We must be open to his correction, or whatever condition that he wants to work in us.
Contrition (1 Peter 4:19)
In Psalm 34:18 the Psalm is declared that the Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. David wrote that the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart – these are things that God does not despise. The prophet Isaiah prophesied that God dwells in the high and holy place and with him who has a contrite and humble spirit in order to revive spirit of the humble in the heart of the contrite ones. Once we have prayed and have felt the Holy Spirit convinces of sin our reaction should be of contrition. In our contrition and humility God will lift us up and restore us as the first step of bringing us out of a place of suffering.
Reflection (Hebrews 12:3)
The writer of Hebrews encourages readers to consider and reflect upon the example of Jesus just remember how much Jesus had to go through so that you can enjoy your salvation and relationship with God even Jesus learned from the things that he suffered. Much more as the younger sons and daughters of God must we receive humbly God’s instruction recognizing that he deals with us as with sons all things we go through our for our benefit so that God can more fully bring his purposes to fruition through our lives.
Praise (Psalms 74:21)
Praise is a completely unnatural reaction to adverse circumstances. In the 74th Psalm Asaph penned line after line of lamentations of how God seemingly had abandoned his people and how the enemies of Israel had apparently escaped punishment for their oppression of God’s people. Finally almost at the end of the Psalm, he exhorted the poor and needy to praise God’s name. No matter how bad things seem to be around us after we have asked God for illumination in prayer, humble ourselves in contrition we must lift up our voices in praise to God’s name.
Endurance (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Not only does God want us to have the right reaction to testing and to his treatment and circumstances, he wants to teach us endurance in executing his will in the face of any adverse circumstances. This not only includes endurance in resisting sin, knowing that none of God’s children will ever be subjected to any temptations that are somehow special and particularly difficult to overcome, but it also includes endurance in doing good even when to all appearances we are putting forth useless and vain efforts.
Joy (Matthew 5:12; Romans 5:3)
Beyond endurance in doing good through adverse circumstances, God expects us to be joyful in our enduring and not have a groaning and miserable attitude in our persistence and endurance. This is truly an indisputable proof of the power of God operating in our lives when we are able to sustain all types of testing and difficult circumstances and situations enduring with an attitude of joy.
Willingness to change (2 Samuel 12:13)
One of the greatest qualities of King David was that despite his high and exalted position he was able to recognize his own sin, humble himself, and repent. He was willing to change! We must never forget that God is the Potter and we are the clay and we must always be subject to his prerogative to remake and mold us according to his will.
To resist our circumstances and wrongly react to them generally means to reject or to be indifferent towards God’s dealings. Jacob is an excellent example of someone who responded in a correct way to God’s dealings.
Throughout the Scriptures God identifies himself with three men each time He says: “I am the God of Abraham of Isaac and of Jacob” (Exodus 3:6). As the God of Abraham, he is the God that keeps the covenant. As the God of Isaac, he is the God of miracles, but when the Scriptures proclaim Him as the God of Jacob, it speaks of Him being the God of transformation, because he changed the name of Jacob and transformed his nature from usurper to Israel.
In reaction to the dealings of God we can take the attitude of a worm – just as Jacob compared himself (Isaiah 41:14-16) and Jesus (Psalm 22:6) – or of the serpent – representing Satan. We someone steps on a worm it just writhes in pain, it makes no attempt to retaliate, it doesn’t attack. A snake will strike back to defend itself. A worm easily surrenders but a snake will fight to the death to protect itself. These two attitudes are contradictory. Some leaders respond to God as a worm, others as a serpent.
Our attitude as a response
We must accept the dealings of God in our lives, believing that “all things work together for good to those who love Him” (Romans 8:28), with the aim to a faithful purpose: the perfection (maturity) of our character.
Many men of God began their ministries with the splendor of success but ended in defeat. They possessed positive qualities such as humility, wisdom, faith, knowledge, anointing, and a ready heart for God at the beginning of their lives and ministries. In spite of all the solid and strong qualities that we may possess, we must be sensitive and obedient to the Lord, even during tests in our lives.