Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 17, 1966

On Attitude

Hoyt H. Houchen

We are hearing much these days about attitude. Brethren have been known to compliment what a gospel preacher or some other Bible teacher has to say but yet they will criticize him for his attitude. They usually express it in this way: "I like what he says but I do not like the way that he says it."

It is certainly agreed that attitudes are important and that one should always have the proper attitude, but we are afraid that in some instances the critic of an attitude is actually more opposed to what is taught.

When truth is preached with personal animosity or and not with love toward the hearer, but only for the purpose of taking advantage and getting someone "told", this is the wrong attitude. The pulpit is not the only place where this disposition is out of order - such an attitude is wrong anywhere and anytime. There are those, however, who do confuse aggressiveness, firmness, force, and conviction with wrong attitude. There is a vast difference between preaching the truth with fervor, power, and all seriousness without any foolishness, and having the wrong attitude. Merely because a preacher or a teacher of God's word may not always flash a "Pepsodent" smile when preaching does not mean that he has a surly disposition or that he has the wrong attitude.

It has been our experience that some liberal brethren are more concerned about a man's "spirit" than they are in absorbing the truth. As an illustration of this, about two years ago in another city, this writer had preached a sermon on "The Nature of Man." It was pointed out that man has a spiritual side and it is to this part of man that the gospel appeals and that since the church is a spiritual institution, it has a spiritual mission. Its mission is to preach the gospel and not to provide recreational facilities such as youth camps, kitchens, and "fellowship" halls which are designed to provide for the physical needs of man. A young man did not like the application that I made and so he criticized me for having the wrong attitude. He did not see why I had to make the application that I did. When he was asked if he could find anything wrong with the way in which it was said, he admitted that he could not. He did not appreciate what was said. This is what we mean when we say that some brethren actually do not like what is said and because they are opposed to it, they talk about "attitude."

This article is written because brethren need to know the difference between wrong attitudes and conviction, earnestness, force, seriousness, etc. When any gospel preacher is earnestly preaching the truth with force and power to the best of his ability, the hearer should be more concerned about the truth that is being presented rather than looking for some wrong "spirit" or attitude upon the part of the one doing the speaking.

This brings us to the hearer. Quite often it is the hearer who needs to change his attitude. The person who attends a service with a critical attitude, waiting and watching for what he can find to criticize, has the wrong attitude. He is taking more heed to what he "sees" than what he "hears." Jesus said in Mk. 4:24 "Take heed what ye hear." Jesus meant that we are to give attention to what we hear and put into practice the things that we need to apply. This is having the proper attitude.

Wrong attitudes need to be criticized, but no faithful gospel preacher will alter his course in his defense of the truth for some "softie" or compromise' who does not appreciate the truth and who tries to cover up his dislike for it by shouting "he has the wrong attitude." We appreciate and are encouraged by those who love the truth and who are not ashamed to have it presented and applied with all firmness and power and who are not afraid to stand up and be counted in the fight for the right. May God bless us with more of this tribe.

Yes, attitudes are important, both on the part of the speaker and the hearer. May we always manifest the right attitude - a love for the truth and a love for the souls of men and women.

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