By Michael E. Brooks
“Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage” (Jude 14b-16 NKJV).
Several years ago the accident report on an aircraft crash in the United States read something like, “The airplane crashed due to an incorrect attitude in its approach to the runway.” In this context, attitude means the angle of an aircraft relative to the horizon. Too steep a descent results in a crash with the earth; too steep an ascent results in the aircraft stalling, being unable to maintain speed. In order to fly safely, the attitude of the plane must be correct.
Attitude is just as important to the success of human life as it is to the flight of a plane. Here attitude means a state of mind, mood, or feeling. Each person has many attitudes. One has attitudes about movies, music, clothing, work, politics, etc., etc. But everyone also has a general attitude or mindset that affects his or her approach to almost every aspect of life. Jude describes those whose attitude was entirely negative. They were complainers, never satisfied with anything. Their disagreeable, negative mindset is also portrayed as “ungodly” in its essence. Jude no doubt means that they were as unlike God as it is possible to be. But he is also probably saying that they were hostile to God. Whatever God said, they did the opposite. Whatever God was for, they opposed. Because of this extremely negative attitude they were doomed.
The apostle Paul also tells of false teachers with negative attitudes. “If anyone teaches otherwise . . . he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself” (1Timothy 6:3-5). In this case the attitudes which will cause one’s life to fail are contentiousness and greed. Some people just like to argue. They are always looking for trouble and ready to fight. Others seek money above all else. Nothing is as important to them as profit. Even religion is pursued only as a means of acquiring more wealth. We do not have to look long to find examples of such. Many prominent “evangelists” have become entrapped by greed and have fallen from their exalted position because of it. Others’ desires are more modest, but just as material. These include anyone whose motive in religious activity is summed up by the expression, “What will I get out of it?”
In contrast, a correct attitude, which will result in happiness and success now and in the life to come, is described in these words from Paul, “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11). When we keep our eyes upon Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2), setting our thoughts on things above (Colossians 3:2), we assure a correct approach towards all things which will enable us to live “soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12). Such a life will endure, and will receive eternal reward and blessings.