Text: R0mans 5:6-11
‘Virtue’ – behaviour showing high moral standards.
Valued characteristics that encourage us to be the best Jesus version of ourselves.
There is something called learned helplessness. It is a technical term originally used in reference to animal psychology but is also appropriately applied to human behaviour as well.
Learned helplessness describes an animal or a person who has learned to behave helplessly, even when there is opportunity to avoid an unpleasant or harmful circumstance.
In people it is essentially, the mental state by which the person perceives he or she has no control over the outcome of their situation.
Self-improvement coaches talk about ‘The Law of Belief’ which states, ‘Whatever you believe, with feeling becomes your reality; you always act in a manner consistent with your beliefs.’ In other words, what we think either inhibits and limits us or energises and frees us.
The Bible is much more succinct Proverbs 23:6-7 Do not eat the bread of a miser, nor desire his delicacies; For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
The obvious application is that as people we can, by thinking negatively, convince ourselves that we are hopelessly chained, restrained, limited or trapped in an inescapable situation. The Bible has an antidote for that Galatians 5:1a It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, stand firm then…
So what do we do when we realise we have learned helplessness behaviour? The key to unlearning helplessness and learning optimism/hopefulness is to replace those limiting beliefs and attitudes instead with life empowering beliefs and attitudes.
What does an optimism rooted and grounded in the word of God look like?
1.Biblical Optimism Knows God’s Attitude Toward His People
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
2.Biblical Optimism Remembers God’s Faithfulness in the Past
When David faced Goliath his faith was strengthened by remembering. He remembered the time when a Bear tried to destroy one of his sheep. He remembered how God enabled him to defeat that Bear.
He remembered another occasion when a Lion tried to attack the flock. God gave him victory over the Lion.
It was remembering those times that David was able to say to Saul, “…this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them…Moreover…The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:36-37
3.Biblical Optimism Expects God’s Help in the Present
In Acts 27 Paul was prisoner on a ship sailing toward Italy and they ran into a storm.
Everyone except Paul was in a panic. By the word of the Lord, Paul knew God would take care of him. He had even interceded for his captors and God gave Paul instruction for saving their lives.
4.Biblical Optimism Sees the Unseen
5.Biblical Optimism is Unmoved by Externals
Christian optimism does not depend upon circumstances.
Whilst prisoner on the ship to Italy Paul could have become depressed about his situation. But Paul stayed God-centred.
6. Biblical Optimism Rejoices in it’s Relationship with God
The optimism/hope we have, is based upon our relationship with Christ. We are so connected to Jesus that His victory is our victory. His future is our future. Scripture tells me to Rejoice and again I say rejoice.
Biblical optimism expresses itself in praise for who God is and what He has already done for us in Christ. It’s not about things; it’s about relationship. Out of that relationship flows everything we need for this life and for eternity.
7.Biblical Optimism Anticipates a Final Victory
Biblical optimism is not life lived through rose tinted spectacles. It does not sweep the negative under the rug; it acknowledges the truth.
But it also does not stay there when God has more in mind and the blood of Jesus speaks a better word.
Let us be tenaciously optimistic because we have read the end of the book and know without a doubt that we win.
Regardless of the day to day struggles we may experience, in the end God wins, Christ wins and we in Christ win.