Once walking through the twisted little streets of Kowloon in Hong Kong, I came upon a tattoo studio. In the window were displayed samples of the tattoos available.
On the chest or arms you could have tattooed an anchor or flag or mermaid or whatever.
But what struck me with force were three words that could be tattooed on one’s flesh, Born to lose.
I entered the shop in astonishment and, pointing to those words, asked the Chinese tattoo artist, “Does anyone really have that terrible phrase, Born to lose, tattooed on his body?”
He replied, ‘Yes, sometimes.’”
“’But,” I said, “I just can’t believe that anyone in his right mind would do that.”
The Chinese man simply tapped his forehead and said in broken English, “Before tattoo on body, tattoo on mind.”
Once a person’s mind is tattooed with negative thinking, self-depreciating thoughts, or a losing mentality, the chances for success are nil. This is true in every area of life. Sports. Business. Relationships. And, of course, our spiritual walk with God.
The concept of a proper spiritual attitude in found throughout the Bible. Solomon in Proverbs wrote, “For as he thinks in his heart. so is he” (Prov 23:7)
The apostle Paul exhorted, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5, NIV). Likewise, Peter wrote that we should arm ourselves “with the same attitude” as Christ (I Pet. 4:1).
In His Mountain Message, Jesus began with the Beatitudes, which speak to eight important attitudes that we His Disciples need to possess in order for our “righteousness to exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees.” (Matt 5:1-11; 20)
The Nineteenth century British author, James A. Allen was right when he wrote, “Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself. He also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace.”
Consider these three applications of this principle.
#1 Our Attitude Determines Our Character.
The kind of person we are is the result of the kind of thoughts we have been thinking. Jesus affirmed that this is so. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19).
If we are to become the kind of person that God wants us to be, it must begin with the right kind of thinking. Indeed as Emerson said, “A man is what he thinks about all day long.”
#2 Our Attitudes Precede Our Actions.
Since we are what we think, what we do will be the result of what we are thinking about. A person’s thinking is so important because it determines his deeds. Good deeds result from good thinking; bad deeds result from bad thinking. While it is important to always correct our wrong deeds, it is more important to correct our wrong thinking.
#3 Our Attitude Impacts Our Circumstances.
This is a general principle. Obviously, some events beyond our control may happen in life that affect us adversely. But it is usually true that our lot in life has been determined by our thoughts. Solomon said, “The thoughts of the diligent tend to the plenteous; but of everyone that is hasty only to want” (Prov. 21:5).
Even when bad things happen to good people who’ve been thinking righteous thoughts, our attitude and thinking will determine the way we deal and feel about misfortune. Paul demonstrated this kind of thinking in the different situations of his life (Phil. 4:11-13).
Samuel Smiles challenges us to right thinking when he wrote:
Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.
What’s tattooed on your mind?
Do you need “to be renewed in the attitude of your mind?” (Eph 4:23)
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman