Attitudes Are Contagious

iStock_000011037137Contagious

I don’t know about you, but I personally had a rough start to the new year.

The first full week of January, I had the flu. I had taken a trip to Knoxville to attend a wedding, and as I returned home I was immediately confronted with a fever of 102, cold chills, a deep cough, and corresponding aches and pains all over my body. It was not my ideal way of attacking my new year’s goals.

When I returned to work a few days later, I discovered that several guys from my office had started the new year in a similar fashion (at home, laid up in bed, sick). The interesting thing I noted was that the sickness hit 4 people from our office at the exact same time.

We must have all been exposed together.

The Flu Isn’t The Only Thing That Is Communicable

Everyone knows that the flu is very infectious. It is easily transmitted by physical contact.

My oldest daughter instinctively scoots her chair away from any of her siblings who are sick because she doesn’t want to “catch” their illnesses.

Attitudes work in much the same way. They are contagious. They are easily transmitted from one to another.

That’s why it’s so important for us to monitor our own attitudes and to be cognizant of ways in which we are being influenced by others.

After one particularly challenging day this week, I vented my frustrations to my wife. She replied with a very convicting and helpful statement:

“When you come home and complain to me, it is contagious and tempts me to be grouchy with my circumstances and take it out on the kids.”

Ouch. Through my wife’s correction, I saw how my sinful attitude was infecting the whole family like a communicable disease. By the grace of God, I repented and asked her forgiveness. My attitude changed and my family was spared from a cycle of harm.

God’s Goodness Is of a Spreading Nature

In contrast to a destructive attitude, we have the wonderful opportunity to impart grace to those who hear our words (Eph. 4:29), and grace spreads.

Richard Sibbes has written that “God’s goodness is a communicative, spreading goodness.”

“That is peculiar to God and to those that are led with the Spirit of God, that are like him; they have a communicative, diffusive goodness that loves to spread itself…God’s goodness is a spreading, imparting goodness” (The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume VI, page 113).

What I’ve discovered is that an environment that is saturated with criticism begets criticism. Others are critical toward you and your knee jerk reaction is to then find fault in them. Before you know it you are “biting and devouring one another” (Galatians 5:15).

If we are not careful and we spread criticism, fault-finding, back-biting, complaining, and a culture of put-downs, we’ll end up spreading destruction. Attitudes are contagious and “a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1).

On the other hand, we can look to our gracious God and spread his goodness and glory to those we interact with.

Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. (Exodus 33:18-19, ESV)

I am so grateful that God has revealed Himself as a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness! (Exodus 34:6)

As we meditate on how merciful and gracious He is toward us, how can we not spread His grace and goodness to others?

God’s mercy and His grace are contagious.

O Lord, please work in us what is pleasing in your sight and make us more like You, for the good of Your people and the glory of Your Great Name!

I'm a husband, father of four, healthcare IT recruiter, pastor and writer. I live in the greater Nashville, TN area where I serve as an elder with Redeeming Grace Church (www.rgcnashville.com).