The Tragedy of a Bad Attitude

The Tragedy of a Bad Attitude

from Attitude is Everything

Lesson One from Attitude Is Everything by Dr. Mike Holloway

A bad attitude can be a very dangerous thing for a number of reasons. One of the most common excuses for having a bad attitude is that a person was treated unfairly or unjustly. That perception then allows a bad attitude to come about and linger until action is taken which usually is not good.

Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were both opinionated men who, over time, developed a strong dislike for each other.
Hamilton did not like Burr for a number of reasons. When both men served on General Washington’s staff during the Revolutionary War, Burr was dismissed because he was suspected of having read Washington’s personal letters. After Burr’s wife died, he became a womanizer and even bragged about his exploits, which further angered Hamilton. At that time, it was customary for politicians to be nominated by others for an office, and if elected, they were to serve as their duty to their country. Burr, however, was one of the first politicians to campaign for himself, which was yet another reason he was hated by the more conservative Hamilton.

The problem with Hamilton’s bad attitude toward Burr was that it took him to the place where he chose to conduct a smear campaign against him, hoping to keep him from being elected President. When Burr confronted Hamilton about newspaper articles that were making him look bad, Hamilton refused to answer him. The result was that Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel. Traditionally, a duel was settled by firing over the other person’s head in what was called a wasted shot. The other person would do likewise, and both men were seen as having preserved their honor, and the matter was settled. In this duel, however, Hamilton was shot and killed by Burr.

The lesson to be learned from this tragedy is that while both men may have felt justified in having a bad attitude toward the other, the irony is that both men lost!


“Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”

Genesis 3:16

One of the most common mistakes in considering our attitudes is that it only affects that particular moment. If we have a bad attitude, we think we can always change it at a later time, and if we need to apologize to anyone, we can do it then.

In this verse, we are informed that when Eve foolishly chose to engage the serpent in a conversation and then chose
to act against God’s desires, that attitude of independence would later come back to haunt her in her children.

Most who read this verse see in it the promise of a painful childbirth, but there is an added consequence – sorrow. When Eve gave birth to Cain and Abel, it was her children who provided the sorrow promised by God.

Cain would kill his brother, simply as a result of his attitude.

How did his bad attitude come about?

It came about as a result of his sin nature, which he inherited from his parents.

Eve’s sorrow that she would experience with her children was a direct result of her own attitude towards God’s commands.


“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:”

Genesis 4:3-4

Both boys had the same parents, grew up in the same home, and enjoyed the same teaching from mom and dad. Why was there a difference in their offerings?

Adam and Eve both knew God better than anyone else who would ever be born. Adam walked with God before the fall. They were both instructed by God how to deal with sin and how to approach Him.

If both offerings had been rejected by God, then it could be assumed neither had been taught how to please Him,
yet because Abel’s offering was accepted, it must be assumed he had been taught by his parents or directly by God Himself.

If Abel knew, then Cain must have known as well. That assumption raises the question why Cain brought a different kind of
offering to God than his brother.

The only way to account for the difference, therefore, is to realize that Abel chose to be obedient while Cain chose to please himself by bringing an offering of which he was proud. Cain’s offering was the result of the rebellion he had allowed to remain in his heart.

When we realize we have developed a bad attitude about a thing or a person, we also need to connect the dots and see there is a heart issue which needs to be fixed immediately.


“But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”

Genesis 4:5

When God tried to teach Cain that his offering was unacceptable, Cain’s bad attitude that led him to bring an offering of his own
choosing then stirred up his emotion of anger. He was not mad at his parents for trying to help him do right. He was not mad at his brother out of jealousy.

He was angry at God for rejecting what Cain had chosen as being acceptable.

A common statement given as a way of avoiding this sort of anger is, “Don’t take it personally.” When an individual is personally involved, he is easily offended by the truth, and anger is usually the result.

Cain knew better when it came to which offering was preferred by God, yet because he was the one who was rejected, he was also the one whose pride was injured.

What is the result of wounded pride?

“Only by pride cometh contention…”

Proverbs 13:10

In Cain’s situation, the contention was between him and God, not Abel.


“But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”

Genesis 4:5

When a bull is angry, it snorts. When a lion is mad, it growls. When a dog is mad, it shows its fangs. When a person is mad, he shows it in his countenance (facial expressions).

God made the human face to consist of fifty-six muscles. Why are there so many? It would seem God is wanting to make sure that what is in our hearts is also being portrayed on our faces for everyone to see. The idea is that it is easier to help a person if we know a problem exists.

Most people do not have a problem trying to decide whether a person is happy, sad, angry, excited, or bored because all those emotions and more are conveyed by the countenance.

Our attitudes … WILL BE DEALT WITH.

A bad attitude is dangerous to the person who has it, as well as those who are nearby. Because of the potential danger, a bad attitude must be handled in a proper and scriptural way. It is for that reason we need to examine how God chose to deal with Cain’s attitude when it was revealed.

Step #1 – Confront it.

“And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?”

Genesis 4:6

Perhaps the most common mistake people make when dealing with a bad attitude is to ignore it, hoping it will go away. Parents would be wise to follow God’s example and deal with children who display an attitude.

Step #2 – Be prepared to offer a second chance.

“If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?…”

Genesis 4:7a

God provided Cain the opportunity to correct his attitude. The idea is that anyone can have a bad day and allow an
attitude to develop.

Step #3 – Issue a warning.

“If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.”

Genesis 4:7b

God was informing Cain that his bad attitude had the potential of causing him to commit an even greater sin, and if he continued, things would only get worse. God was willing to confront Cain’s bad attitude because He loved him. It was not enjoyable nor was it effective, but it was the right thing to do in hopes of helping Cain.

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