Right Attitudes = Right Actions

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington

June usually is a month of big transitions, offering lots of new, exciting, fun, or even challenging opportunities -- the end of a school year, the beginning of the summer, graduation, time to relax, family and friend vacations, the need to look for summer work, the longest day in the year (for those of us in the northern hemisphere), etc. So, wherever you are this June, whatever challenges you face, whatever transitions you need to make, whomever you're with -- you can make a difference. How? By maintaining a loving, joyous, helpful, kind attitude and approach to every little or big thing or person, and then acting accordingly.

Right Attitudes = Right Actions = Making a Difference
Paul gives us some guidelines regarding our attitudes and our actions in Galatians.

Embrace God's Plan
"The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you" (The Message, Gal. 3:11).

  • Establish a right relationship with God.
  • Accept whatever God has planned for us this summer (and the rest of our lives).
  • Focus on listening to God telling us how we can glorify Him rather than assume that we know the best things to do for God.

Treat Everyone Equally
"In Christ's family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal" (The Message, Gal. 3:28).

  • Think of everyone as equal.
  • Treat everybody equally.
  • Find the commonality with others.
  • Don’t condescend or try to push anyone out of the kingdom of heaven just because they think differently than we do. It’s not our right to judge; it’s our obligation to love!

Paul spent a lot of time helping his young churches understand that individual backgrounds and religious rules and regulations don't matter; faith matters, as Jesus taught. Paul challenged the leaders at the Jerusalem church, asserting that it was not right to force non-Jewish followers of Christ to become Jewish (get circumcised) before they could become Christians. People who believe differently than us don't have to be forced to accept and follow our particular brand of religion in order to be God's children, in order to listen to God, in order to appreciate and love the Christ. We are all one.

Use Freedom to Love
      "It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows. For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That's an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?
      My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit. Then you won't feed the compulsions of selfishness" (The Message, Gal. 5:13-16).

  • Help spread freedom by loving others.
  • Don’t be critical of others.
  • Look for ways to serve others, whether it be at home, at work, or on vacation.
  • Practice unselfishness. Eliminate selfishness.
  • Let the Spirit energize and move us in all of our relationships in our families, with our friends, at work, or even at summer school. 
  • Rejoice that we have been given the freedom to love others!

Live Life God's Way
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law" (KJV Gal. 5:22, 23).

  • Love.
  • Be peacemakers.
  • Be joyous in all we do -- regardless of whether or not we want to do what we’re doing.
  • Strengthen our faith in God to work out our relationships, finances, family relationships, friendships, home….
  • Be meek, which means that we are “mild of temper; soft; gentle; not easily provoked or irritated” (Webster, The Student’s Reference Dictionary).

Eugene Peterson's paraphrase of this same passage really tells us why we want to let the Spirit move us:

"But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like

  • affection for others,
  • exuberance about life,
  • serenity.

"We develop

  • a willingness to stick with things,
  • a sense of compassion in the heart, and
  • a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people.

"We find ourselves

  • involved in loyal commitments,
  • not needing to force our way in life,
  • able to marshal and direct our energies wisely." (The Message, Gal. 5:22, 23, format modified)

Make the Most of Life

  • "Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then
  • sink yourself into that.
  • Don't be impressed with yourself.
  • Don't compare yourself with others.
  • Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life" (The Message, Gal. 6:4-5, format modified).

Be Persistent

  • "So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good.
    • At the right time we will harvest a good crop
    • if we don't give up, or quit.
  • "Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all…" (The Message, Gal. 6:9-10, format modified).