As if we hadn’t had enough of a roller coaster ride: Covid-19, lockdown, recession, riots, and electoral challenges in the US. Now there are more lockdowns imposed on key nations. As often said, when crisis hits, there can be two different responses: 1) It’s the end of the world OR 2) It’s the womb of opportunity.
The good news is this: the choice is yours.
The Word of the Lord
To cross the divide from the end of the world to opportunity, it is not a matter of talent, resources, or connections. Your ultimate weapon, for better or worse, is attitude.
The late Bob Gass had two wonderful quotes on this subject:
‘Circumstances will not hold you back; but your attitude will.’
‘A bad attitude is like a flat tyre (tire); until you change it, you aren’t going anywhere.’
Your attitude can make the difference between being stranded in the valley bottom or standing on the mountaintop. Again, the choice is yours.
In order to learn of the benefits of the right attitude, let’s turn to one of the great heroes of the Bible: Daniel.
Daniel 6:3a (KJV): Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.
An excellent spirit is a gold star attitude. While others crawl, plod, or freeze, it runs, sails and soars. The excellent spirit flies high while many are stranded on the runway.
Daniel was highly-educated, especially gifted, very effective at his work, with a wealth of first-hand experience. He was a great asset to the Babylonian bureaucracy. Now the Persians had taken over and he was an older man. Yet, they wanted to utilise him even more than his former masters. While his aptitude and experience were invaluable, the thing that made him Number One was his excellent spirit. The Persian king wanted to set him over the entire realm.
What is the Excellent Spirit
How can we describe this wonderful character quality? Please consider what an excellent spirit is:
- Good attitude: This is the starting point. Have you noticed how unpleasant, even toxic, it can be when someone has a bad attitude? They are not nice to be around. Yet, those with a good attitude are a delight. This is only the beginning.
- Understanding: The Book of Proverbs encourages the acquisition of wisdom and understanding as the Number One priority (4:7). When attained, you get all the things the world seeks after: acclaim, riches, and longevity. In Proverbs 17:27: He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. The excellent spirit controls the tongue and speaks wise things. Also, it excels in understanding, which is invaluable. When you know what is happening and why, the insights God gives you will open doors that no one can shut.
- Gratitude: This list would be incomplete without gratitude. An excellent spirit is a grateful spirit: to God and people. And gratitude is so wonderful because it is so rare. One glaring example was the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19. They begged Jesus to heal them. His response? Go and show yourselves to the priest. According to Leviticus 13:2, only healed lepers could appear before the priest and give the prescribed offering. So by obeying Jesus and heading off to the priest while still in a leprous condition these men demonstrated obedience and faith. Because of this, all ten lepers were completely healed: That’s the good news. The bad news was that only one of them went back to say, ‘Thank you.’ And he even wasn’t even an Israelite, but a Samaritan. Jesus made public note of this scandalous display of ingratitude by the other nine lepers. It was only a 10% gratitude rate and, unfortunately, it may not have a risen much since then. For this reason an excellent spirit will heed the advice of 1 Thessalonians 5:18: In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Please note, thanking God for everything means ‘everything.’ Just putting this simple verse into practice will set you far above the rest.
While these are the main pillars of an excellent spirit, there are other things to consider. Exercising the fruit of the Spirit of self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) shows great strength, more than someone who conquers a city (Proverbs 16:32). The potency of an excellent spirit is as such that even when you are ill, it will carry you until you are well (Proverbs 18:14a). Furthermore, the excellent spirit is like a spotlight to the inner person, for yourself and also others (Proverbs 20:27). After all, with a lot of fake and false in our world, we need the discernment that comes from an excellent spirit.
Finally, the excellent spirit will cause you to go places while others are marooned on the sidelines. Habakkuk 3:17-19 gives outstanding advice, especially when everything goes wrong. Rejoice in God no matter what, God is your strength, He will give you hind’s feet (like a deer) and you will walk on the high places. Like the beloved in Song of Solomon 2:8, you will be ‘leaping over the mountains and skipping over the hills.’
On a practical side, for victorious living, imbibe the exhortations from 1 Thessalonians 5:15-23. On top of all that, if there is ‘sludge’ in your spirit, try fasting (see Isaiah 58 and make sure you are healthy enough to do so). It can do wonders.
In Daniel’s experience, his excellent spirit was put to the test continually: The unkosher diet (Chapter 1), Capital punishment for Babylon’s wisemen (Chapter 2), the fiery furnace (Chapter 3), and the lion’s den (Chapter 6). Daniel and his friends prevailed against it all. You can too.