8. Attitudes, Part 1: Wisdom, Envy, Grumbling
May my . . . thoughts be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my sheltering rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
In recent years, the term “attitude” has been used to represent a negative, often arrogant, manner. The broader definition of the term, however, is a state of mind that can be either positive or negative. In this chapter, we will consider both good and bad attitudes in light of what the Bible has to say about them.
Read Proverbs 3:13-18.
What two things does Solomon say are more profitable than gaining silver, gold, or rubies?
In verses 21-24 of the same chapter, Solomon lists two items to “safeguard.” What are they?
Proverbs 8:10-12 adds several more related items to the list. What are they?
If you are unsure of the meanings of any of these words, look them up in a dictionary. What did you learn?
Read back through all of these verses again and list the benefits that these qualities offer.
Acquiring wisdom is not dependant on natural intelligence. A man does not have to be at the top of his class academically to exercise good judgment or discernment. But he must want it. The Bible uses words like “find,” “gain,” “desire,” “preserve,” and “choose” to indicate that these qualities must be actively sought—they do not come naturally. But they are accessible.
Read James 1:5.
To whom does God give wisdom generously?
Are wisdom, understanding, and their related qualities things that your boyfriend values and pursues? _____ Is he teachable, willing to learn?
Now godliness combined with contentment brings great profit.
(1 Timothy 6:6)
In Proverbs 14:30, the writer says that a tranquil spirit _________________________, but envy __________________________.
A tranquil spirit can also be termed contentment. It is not the same as lack of initiative or choosing to settle for less than what we want or need because we don’t want to work for it. That is laziness.
Contentment is, rather, a willingness to be satisfied when we have done our best, without comparing our circumstances to others’.
Paul said in Philippians 4:12 that he had learned to be content whether living in ______________ or with ___________________, which implies that people can be discontent even when they own many material goods and their physical needs are met.
Read Ecclesiastes 3:11-13.
In what does God intend for a man to find contentment?
Envy is an attitude of resentment over what we perceive as someone else’s advantage over us. It is a refusal to be satisfied with our situation as long as someone else has something better.
Read James 3:14-16.
Where does envy come from?
A man who gives his mind more to envy than to contentment can become a chronic complainer, lacking compassion, refusing to be glad when good things come to other people, and frequently whining about how much worse his situation is than anyone else’s.
· Does your boyfriend demand a lot of sympathy from you?
· Does he consistently refuse to share material possessions or help other people because he claims his current life situation is worse than theirs?
· Does he resent things that his parents do for his siblings?
Does he resent things that your parents do for your siblings?
· When a friend, relative, classmate, or colleague gets something good, is he genuinely happy for him/her, or does he feel sorry for himself?
An envious attitude in a man can be a subtle trap for a woman because most females like to comfort and to sympathize. It is a part of nurturing that makes her feel needed—and there are times when it is appropriate and helpful for those whom she loves. But if comparing and refusing to be content are lifestyle attitudes for your boyfriend rather than occasional emotions which he is able to rise above, living with him will not make you happy. He will drain your joy and poison your own contentment.
When the people complained, it displeased the LORD.
When the LORD heard it, his anger burned . . . . (Numbers 11:1)
Closely related to an attitude of envy is a bent toward grumbling (sometimes called “murmuring”). Life is full of annoyances, and most of us grumble from time to time. But that is not okay if it becomes an unchecked, chronic habit. The Bible contains many admonitions against grumbling, and nearly all of them warn of judgment if it doesn’t stop. Grumbling is repeatedly muttering words that express dissatisfaction and discontentment. It is fueled by a critical spirit which can spread rapidly to other people. It negates thankfulness and stirs up unrest, which God finds wearying.
A steady diet of negative words will wear you out, too. Although you may feel protective of him at first and think that you can help him change his circumstances so he will be happy, if your boyfriend has gotten too much in the habit of complaining, you will be unsuccessful. It will take a change of heart rather than a change of circumstances to break that habit.
In each of the following Scripture passages, who is admonishing people for grumbling, or warning against it?
· Numbers 14:26-27
· 1 Corinthians 10:1-10
· John 6:43
· James 5:9
· 1 Peter 4:9
· Jude 14-16
These are some very serious warnings. Take note of how much of your boyfriend’s talk is comprised of grumbling.
· Is it an occasional bad mood which he gets over, or a chronic habit?
· Is he thankful more than he is critical?
· When things go well, does he still find something to complain about?
· Does he get angry if you do not join him in his complaints or agree with them?
Bear in mind that if you marry a chronic grumbler, his children (your children) will learn that habit from him. And if he wears out God’s patience with his murmuring, his family will very likely share his punishment.