American society has become increasingly less civil. There is a noticeable lack of kindness and respect during normal interactions among people. The evidence is everywhere— while driving, in grocery stores, at work, on social media websites, in the news, etc.
Recently I experienced an episode on the golf course—yes, at a place where golfers are supposedly having fun and doing some socializing at the same time. The guy hit his ball well off the fairway and his ball landed on the tee I was about to hit from. He was clearly the who had goofed. But that’s not the important part. His nastiness when he located his ball was even more out of bounds. Did he apologize? Absolutely not. He behaved as if he owned the whole course and my being there to hit a tee shot was an interruption. He mouthed a final comment as he drove off. Trust me—it took max restraint on my part not to respond in kind.
As the golfer drove away, a thought hit me: “Wonder if he was a Christian?” Further, would he have perhaps realized that I was a Christian?” It’s entirely possible that he is a follower of Jesus and a regular church attender as well. Afterall, I have participated in several golf tournaments sponsored by Christian organizations and the behavior of some hardly reflected a Christ-like disposition. If Jesus was present, He was back at the clubhouse.
How’s your disposition on a day-to-day basis? The answer to his question is more important than we realize, especially for those who don’t know Jesus and look at our lives.
Disposition is an aspect of character, not the only one but an essential trait. Maybe a good way to express it is this: Character is a collection of personality traits within our behavior that reflects who we are. This is seen in our integrity, attitudes, moral fiber, disposition, and how we treat those around us.
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines disposition is as “the predominating bent of one’s mind or spirit”. With Christ living within us, each Christian should increasingly exemplify Jesus’ attitude and disposition.
The Apostle Paul paints a beautiful word picture of Jesus’ disposition:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3,4-NIV)
These days there’s a lot said about people’s accomplishments, but little attention directed to disposition. From my experience, disposition can more often be revealed by the way we respond to events rather than to those we initiate.
Developing a Christ-like disposition won’t happen without all-out commitment. Why? It’s a lifelong pursuit on a spiritual battlefield. You’ll face fierce opposition from the flesh, the world, and the devil. There are no shortcuts.
From my reading of Scripture, along with personal experience, I’ve discovered there’s no formula for developing a Christ-like disposition. Think of godly men and women you know. As you examine the character of each of these people, there’s no one description that fits all. The inner transformation each experienced was unique to their personality, and background. For certain, each of these individuals remained teachable and moldable in the God’s hands.
Rather than handing you a paradigm or a laundry list of bible verses, let me cite a couple of examples to demonstrate what right looks like when it comes to disposition. Remember, disposition is multidimensional. Pretend you’re trying to paint a picture of disposition on a blank canvas. It’s going to require many colors, shades of colors, and endless brush strokes.
Treat others like you want them to treat you. “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them” (Luke 6:31-NIV). This is known as the Golden Rule. Most folks have heard this even if they don’t recognize it as Scripture.
Here’s a question to ask yourself: “What would happen if I started consistently treating other people the way I would like to be treated?” Not only would it help others, but it would help you toward shaping a better version of your own character and disposition.
In Springfield, Missouri, where Judy and I live, we have a recycle center. People of all ages come to dump grass clippings, tree branches, and variety of trash like paper, cardboard, glass, aluminum, etc. It’s highly trafficked, particularly by older citizens who have the time to make use of this facility. Many times, I’ll show up and the place is jammed with cars and pickup trucks. It’s like a giant overcrowded parking lot with vehicles and people moving everywhere, many of them never even looking where they’re going.
Being mission-oriented, I try to get in and out with max efficiency. Truthfully, some of the older citizens move at a snail’s pace, greatly slowing things down for everyone. One morning I was starting to get a bit steamed at an older gentleman who was taking forever to empty his pickup truck of plastic bags filled with grass clippings. I was getting more frustrated by the minute until the Holy Spirit spoke something like this: “Scott, instead of complaining, why don’t you get off your duff and help the guy?”
I understood and immediately offered my assistance. The man appreciated my willingness to help, and we got the job done quickly. My mindset has been transformed. Every time I visit the recycle center, I look for someone to help.
Be a more thankful person. “Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 106:1-NIV).
One day I was getting out of my truck at Walmart and was complaining to myself about a couple of minor injuries that were hampering my efforts to work out at the gym. Just before entering the store, a man in a wheelchair came through the exit door. I immediately noticed two things about him. My eyes first saw his Army veteran hat and then jumped down to his legs. He was missing both almost all the way to his hips. I greeted him with a smile and a kind word and then entered the store.
Temporally, I forgot why I had come to Walmart in the first place. But a few seconds later I knew. God wanted me to get a good look at a military hero whose challenges far surpassed anything I’ve ever experienced. As I wandered down a few aisles, I prayed a silent prayer. “ Lord, forgive me for my stinking attitude. Your steadfast love endures forever. I know you love me and want only the best. Even if I don’t always understand what you’re doing in my life I know that you are good and everything you do is good. With your help, Lord, I will be come a more thankful person. PS- Bless that vet I just saw. Show him your love in very special ways this day. In Jesus Name, Amen.”
The Lord wants to transform your disposition to be more Christ-like. He’ll give you the ability to change, but the choice is up to you. Today is a great time to begin.