Don’t Try To Change Your Bad Behavior

Thoughts to beahviorsAs I wrote previously, I believe Christians should be the best at getting along with others. First of all, Christians have been empowered by the Holy Spirit with the skills necessary to live at peace with everyone, IF we will only allow the Spirit to do the necessary work in us. And second, the way Christians treat others goes a long way toward either attracting or repelling others from a relationship with Jesus.

But here’s an important thing: If you don’t get along well with others now, don’t try to change your behavior!

Stephen Covey wrote, “To try to change outward behaviors does very little good in the long run if I fail to examine the basic paradigms from which those attitudes and behaviors flow.”

You see, behavior is the fruit. If we want to change the fruit, we need to back up a few steps.

The Apostle Paul used the life of Jesus as an example for Christians on how we can get along with others. But notice this: most of what Paul discusses is the “inside stuff.”

The progression goes like this (see Philippians 2:1-13)—

Thoughts → Values → Attitudes → Behaviors

(1) Thoughts—These need to be humble thoughts about God’s love toward us (v. 1).

(2) Values—Paul tells us to be “one in spirit and purpose” with others (v. 2). The definition of the Greek words here mean valuing the well-being of everyone. Paul then explains how our humility can lead to these win-win relationships (vv. 3, 4).

(3) Attitudes—“Your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus” (v. 5). Jesus showed us what it was to have an attitude related toward obedience to God’s will.

(4) Behavior—If our thoughts, values and attitudes are rightly aligned to God, then our behavior will naturally be Christ-like as well. We see the example of Jesus in verses 6-8, and God’s reward for that behavior in verses 9-11. Then Paul calls on Christians to follow that pattern in our own lives (vv. 12, 13).

Most decent, reasonably-thinking human beings share the same values. Harry Truman said, “When we understand the other fellow’s viewpoint—understand what he is trying to do—nine times out of ten he is trying to do right.”

The problem is this: When the other person behaves differently from me, my natural tendency is to assume he doesn’t value what I value. In other words, I’m judging his value system on the way I normally behave.

The break-down is in my attitude. That’s the area I need to address. That’s the attribute of Jesus that Paul told us to copy.

So if I want to get along better with others, I shouldn’t try to change my behavior, but my attitude. My prayer should be: “I want this same attitude to be in me which was also in Christ Jesus. He served God and others, so I too want to follow His example of obedience, and I want to demonstrate my appreciation for all that Jesus has done for me by working hard to better get along with others. Help me change my attitude!”

Check out this video of the full message…

I hope you can join us next Sunday as we continue learning how to get along with others. Please join us in person or on Periscope.

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