An Attitude Check – Just Between Us

When Just Between Us announced that their word for 2023 is “joy,” I got very excited and turned immediately to the book of joy in the Bible: Philippians. The word “joy” is mentioned sixteen times in only 104 verses—but I want us to think about it before we get too excited.

Paul wrote this book while he was in chains and imprisoned in a dingy cell. This tells me that Paul chose joy in spite of his circumstances. He didn’t praise God for them, but rather he praised God in the middle of them. Furthermore, Paul saw God’s purpose in his trials. He says in Phil. 1:12, “Now I want you to know brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.” Paul recognized that “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (v 21). That’s not only joy. That’s attitude!


At the beginning of every New Year, I, too, ask the Lord to plant a word in my mind and write it on the tablet of my heart so that I have a focus for the year. I usually base this word upon a verse or passage to give it a scriptural backbone. Often the word comes out of whatever I happen to be reading in my Bible as I begin the New Year.

I’ve had words like comfort, peace, hope, and simplicity. Nothing too complicated, but something joy-inspiring. In fact, I was hoping that joy would be my word for the year. However, God placed another word upon my heart instead—attitude—based upon Phil. 2:5, which says, “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had” (NLT).

Attitude is not exactly the kind of word I was expecting, nor am I finding it an easy one to attain—especially as Paul explains what that attitude looks like. “[Jesus], being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:6–8). In terms of personal application, that would implies that having the same attitude or mindset of Christ begins with humility. In other words, giving up my rights and dying to self. Ugh! Not again!


I remember when I was young and attending my first Christian camp. From time to time throughout the week, the camp director would get our attention by shouting out, “Attitude check,” to which we campers were required to shout back in response, “Praise the Lord.”  It was especially emphasized when we were leaving the campground to embark on a day trip. That’s when we needed to watch our attitude more than ever, because we never knew who’d be watching us. That meant watching our words and our behavior as well as remembering we were not only guarding the camp’s reputation, but the Lord’s.

Looking back now, I see how important keeping our attitude in check is. After all, it’s out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). In other words, it’s best to watch our attitude before it leaks out and goes public!


It’s amazing to me, as I’ve zeroed in the word, “attitude,” how much more aware of my attitude I’ve been in my day-to-day life. Not to mention how much adjusting I have to do if I’m required to align it with that of Jesus’s.

So far this year, I’ve learned that attitude is all about putting others ahead of myself, regarding others as more important than myself (Phil. 2:6–7), thinking on things that produce life rather than death (Phil. 4:8), and putting them into practice joyfully and with thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6–7)! That’s where the “praising the Lord” part of our attitude check comes in.

I’m recognizing that nurturing a joyful, Christ-like attitude has a lot to do with our heart’s condition, our thoughts, our words, our actions, and our motive for doing what we do. Our attitude needs careful attention on an ongoing, day-by-day, often minute-by-minute basis. That’s how easily our attitude can slip.

Therefore, in order to keep my attitude in check for the year ahead, I decided to make reading Philippians a part of my regular Bible reading—taking note of the words, phrases, and verses that make my heart stand at attention, writing out the entire book, recording thoughts, challenges, instructions, warnings, truths, and insights as I come across them, and even putting some of Philippians to memory so that God’s Word is more deeply impressed upon my heart.

While adjusting my attitude seems like a significant challenge, here is what gives me hope as I face the year ahead: I can be “confident of this, that he who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

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