Your baby is teething and kept waking up at all hours of the night. A rude driver cut you off on your morning commute. Your roommate left her dishes on the kitchen counter — again.
Ugh. Can you feel the tension crawling up your neck?
Or maybe you woke up to a perfect hair day. Your kind neighbor brought in your trash cans. Your kids didn’t fight on the way to school, and the predicted storm instead gave way to clear blue skies.
Hooray! What a glorious day!
It sure is easy to let things that are beyond our control — whether bad or good — dictate our attitude. I see this in my kids too. If they get to play the video game of their choice: happy campers. If I ask them to take a family walk or bring in the trash cans: grumpy complainers. While I desire for (and expect) my children to choose a grateful and cheerful manner whether they get what they want or not, I have to admit I don’t always follow my own standards.
But what does the Bible have to say about our attitude? In a nutshell, it says we should take a cue from Jesus. Listen to the instruction the apostle Paul gave to the Philippians: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4 CSB).
There’s that word: humility. It means turning away from self-focus to other-focus, having a posture that chooses to serve instead of strive, and remembering that God is in control and we are not. These instructions lead us to the big takeaway: “Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
When I was younger in my faith, I remember reading Paul’s instructions and thinking it was kind of ridiculous. I mean, Jesus is Jesus. The Savior. God in human flesh. Sacrifice and obedience must come easy for Him, right? How can God expect imperfect us to have the same attitude as perfect Jesus?
While I understand where my younger self was coming from, in truth it was a cop-out. I didn’t want to put others first. It felt like a lot of pressure to try living up to Jesus’ standards. The bar was too high! How could any of us possibly reach it?
If you find your mind wandering down this same line of thinking, it’s time for a full stop. Paul’s instructions to adopt a Christlike posture are not a prescription for religious performance but an invitation to spiritual freedom, to eternal peace in Jesus rather than temporary pleasure in ourselves.
Jesus Himself said, “So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free” (John 8:36). We don’t have to perfectly follow an elaborate set of rules or offer animal sacrifices on an altar to be made right with God. We don’t have to earn our salvation or be a really good person for God to love us. “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
We will beat this drum as loud and as long and as often as we need to! Nothing about the peace of Jesus is wrapped up in our performance.
So what does adopting the same attitude as Jesus look like practically? Paul’s teaching in Philippians goes on to unpack this: “Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world, by holding firm to the word of life” (Philippians 2:14-16).
Hold firm to the word of life. That’s the goal, friend! Jesus said it Himself: “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10). How do we get this abundant life? Follow God’s Word and Christ’s example. Don’t grumble or complain. Be different from this dark world so you will shine brightly. In this way, the world will know whose you are!
Join me in praying this today:
Jesus, I want to be more like You. Help me adopt Your attitude of humility. Help me take on Your posture of servant-heartedness. I confess I’m often prone to grumble and complain. Help me exchange my irritability for Your peace. May Your light shine through me. I’m Yours. Thank You for being my Savior and Guide. Amen.
Isn’t peace just what we all need right now? (Raising my hand high!)
That’s why I’m so excited to share with you Create in Me a Heart of Peace.
It’s the second in our series of four transformational Bible studies, and it’s now available wherever books are sold, including:
This Bible study was heart-and-life-changing to write and I believe it’s going to help you encounter God and fall in love with His Word in fresh ways too!
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Amen!!! Thank you for sharing, Becky! Amen!
Becky Keife says
Glad you’re here, Bomi!
Ruth Mills says
I have a co-worker who is a complainer & I’ve fallen into the pattern of complaining with him. I am not showing him Christ when I too complain. May I adopt Christ’s attitude of humility & servitude not join the bandwagon of what isn’t right or should be improved in our processes & others! Please forgive my disobedient, Lord! All to His glory not mine!!! Thank you for this much needed word this am! Blessings!
Becky Keife says
It’s so challenging not to get sucked into that trap. Good job recognizing the negative pattern and taking a step toward choosing the better path by God’s strength!
Thank you, Becky! My kids are grown, but I’m often impatient with my husband (and he with me). I will continue to pray for humility and patience. And God will bring me His peace!
Becky Keife says
Praying along with you, Irene!
Janet Williams says
Thank you Becky for such a beautiful prayer. I confess, my walk with my dog this morning was full of grumble and complain. He just wanted to go everywhere and sniff/pea everything!! And I wanted “the perfect peaceful cruise” However, even in my grumble God showed his sun rising, fish jumping in and out of the ocean stream. People walking, talking and laughing. Bike riders, runners and joy filled dog walkers. Soooo even though I continued to grumble, I grumbled in gratefulness…if that even is a thing…lol
Have a blessed grumble free day \0/
Becky Keife says
God is so kind to meet us and get our attention right where we are!
Beth Williams says
It is so easy for me to be a grumbler. Usually when I’m tired or stressed out & trying to get things done. When that happens I take time later in the day to pray & ask forgiveness. I then go on about my day trying my best to shine Jesus’ light. I take Philippians 2:3-4 to heart. When I’m at work or volunteering my thoughts are about others. How my tasks are helping them. Be it simply stocking rooms, assisting RNs with a task, putting meals together, giving out food baskets. nothing is beneath me when it comes to helping others.