Most everyone is willing to concede they desire to go to heaven after this life is over and live there with God eternally versus dying and going to hell “where ‘their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.'” (Mark 9:48 NKJV) That is the way we ought to feel and God certainly approves of our desire along that line. Unfortunately, our desire for heaven and our attitudes while living here on earth are often in conflict. We want to eventually go to heaven but we have attitudes that drive us in the opposite direction – away from God and away from a home with him. I would like to discuss 3 such attitudes, attitudes quite prevalent today.
(1) Self-sufficiency. It is an American ideal to raise children that are independent and self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency is good up to a point but I fear we have sometimes succeeded beyond our desires or expectations in raising a generation of people who have come to feel they need no help, none at all, that they can do it all by themselves as little kids are prone to say. If you can do it all by yourself then you do not need God in your life do you and that is the problem when we take the attitude of self-sufficiency too far.
The Bible gives an account of just such a man – the parable of the rich fool found in Luke 12:16-21. “Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’ ‘But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.'” (NKJV)
Everyone is for success versus failure but can success be deceitful? Can success lead you to believe too much in yourself? “For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.'” (1 Cor. 1:19 NKJV) “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” (1 Cor. 1:26 NKJV) What Paul is saying in 1 Cor. 1:26 is that few of that particular class which are called by the preaching of the gospel will heed the call and respond to it.
In the International Standard Version this verse reads as follows, “Brothers, think about your own calling. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.” Why not? Because those of that class were not willing to respond favorably to the gospel call? Why not? Because like the rich fool they leave God out of their lives due to the sense of self-sufficiency.
Who needs God when you are on a roll, on the gravy train? With them their health is great, they have a great education (most likely), great job, wonderful home and family, material possessions, and they feel like it is going to go on forever and never end. They kind of take the hymn, without conscious thought, “Never Grow Old” and apply it to their life adding to it “Never Will Die” and “Never Will Face God in Judgment.” One cannot help but wonder if worldly success will not destroy more people spiritually than poverty ever dreamed of doing.
If you really think you are self-sufficient and do not need God time will have to be your teacher if you will not learn any other way. Time teaches us all but to learn too late in time, in eternity, is too sorrowful a scene to contemplate.
(2) Indifference. Some synonyms for indifference would be disinterested, uninterested, unconcerned, apathetic, etc. Many people will be lost because they do not care enough to be saved. With this character salvation would have to fall into his lap for him to have it for he will not make a move on his own. He is very well pleased with the “just believe in God” doctrine (having no idea what it means to believe in God and too disinterested to study and find out) for his nature is such that he is not concerned enough to do anything about salvation that requires any effort or work (defined as obedience) on his part.
Such characters live their life based on presumption. They have made a God after their own image, that is built up a God in their mind of their liking, one who agrees with them on their way of thinking about life and eternity, and so they are happy. Isaiah 55:8 means nothing to them, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,’ says the Lord.” (NKJV) There is a good chance they do not even know the passage exists due to their indifference.
There is an arrogance in this attitude but it is unclear to me whether or not those who hold this attitude are aware of it or not. The arrogance is in the idea that God will eventually bow to my own will and save me despite my indifference toward him.
Those who are indifferent are those who are basically satisfied with the way things are no matter what the state of things may be. The church at Laodicea as described in Rev. 3:14-22 seems to have been trending in that direction. Jesus described them as “lukewarm” (Rev. 3:16 NKJV) and satisfied (Rev. 3:17). They were neither cold nor hot (Rev. 3:16). It might be a matter of semantics, if you want to disagree with me, but it certainly sounds to me like indifference.
Jesus said they did not know they were “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” (Rev. 3:17 NKJV) I have never met a person who was indifferent to God who realized the spiritual state he was in. They do not realize but they do assume. There is no end to their assumptions.
Jesus once had a lawyer ask him, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25 NKJV) Jesus asked him, in reply, “What is written in the law?” (Luke 10:26 NKJV) The lawyer’s response and Jesus’ reply follow.
“So he answered and said, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ And He said to him, ‘You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.'” (Luke 10:27-28 NKJV)
Does the indifferent man or woman ever meet this qualification for eternal life? Not as long as he or she remains indifferent. Indifference is a spiritual murderer.
(3) Worldliness. Worldliness is just a desire for the things of this world – things that bring worldly satisfaction. This includes, of course, material possessions, worldly achievements and honors, travel, pleasure, entertainment, etc. None of these things are inherently evil or wrong in themselves but the worldliness aspect comes when these things or any part thereof take the place of the spiritual, take the place of God in a person’s life getting top billing.
Worldliness crowds out the desire for God and a spiritual life. Often these things seem to be very innocent and they could and would be if we would leave them in their proper place. We want the extra nice home or car, that which we cannot comfortably afford, and thus there goes the benevolence we could have practiced had we purchased more modestly. We want to have a family get together. Great! We ought to do that. But, do we say no worship this Sunday, for there is no time as we have guests coming for lunch (called dinner where I live)? Or, do we have to get to such and such a place in time for the noon day meal so no worship service this Sunday? I think you get the idea. Worldliness crowds God out of our lives and replaces it with the idols we set up in our hearts as being more important than God.
An idol is anything we count as being more desired than God. We refuse to admit this is what is happening but actions speak louder than words. The desire for possessions, fun, travel, and entertainment crowd God out and give him a seat if he will take it (he won’t) on the back seat. In time, if not repented of, it will cost us our souls just as much as indifference or the attitude of self-sufficiency.
Paul said of Demas, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world.” (2 Tim. 4:10 NKJV) The apostle John admonishes us, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15 NKJV)
As human beings it is often hard to combat attitudes that prevail in society and among our friends and acquaintances and those we work with. First thing we know we find their attitudes becoming our own. One must beware of his friends. “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Cor. 15:33 NLT) Often the bad company is not bad in the sense that it is evil in itself but only in that it is worldly putting worldly things ahead of God and influencing us to do the same.
Living successfully as a Christian is a battle. Paul calls it a fight and says, “Fight the good fight of faith.” (1 Tim. 6:12 NKJV) He says he had fought that fight (2 Tim. 4:7 NKJV). One of the biggest parts of that fight is no doubt the battle within, the battle of maintaining Christian attitudes. Of the miser the writer of Proverbs says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Prov. 23:7 NKJV) Is that not true of us all? The Bible thus directs us in what to think on.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.” (Phil. 4:8 NKJV)
We have control over the attitudes that develop within us. It is a matter of free will. What attitudes will we live with and thus die having? It is our choice.