I learned a long time ago that the world is filled with negative folks. What I've discovered in the last few years is that so is the church. That's amazing to me, given the grace that has been extended to us by the Lord, and the hope we have in Him. You would think that Christians would be the most positive people in the world. Because of the goodness of the Lord we should be able to find the silver lining in every dark cloud.
I think of Paul and Silas in jail at Philippi. How easy it would have been for them to grumble and complain about the conditions they were in. But instead, at midnight they were praising the Lord and singing to Him. Their circumstances were less than ideal, but they chose to "accentuate the positive" and focus on the Lord rather than on their problems.
I confess, I'm sometimes influenced by those "Negative Nellie's" in the church that always want to complain about what's wrong, while ignoring the good things the Lord is doing. They always seem to find something to criticize, and I find myself being discouraged and frustrated and tempted to do the same things. God has used a couple of things to help me overcome the negatives:
1. My uncle Dan, a retired pastor who is approaching 90 years old but still has an amazingly positive outlook on life. He sends out a daily PTL (Praise the Lord) email and God uses Him to remind me that praise brings about a positive attitude.
2. Psalm 34:1, "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth." God really highlighted this verse a few weeks ago and it has helped me immensely. I discovered that when the praise of the Lord was "continually in my mouth" there was no room for negative talk or criticism of others. You can't praise the Lord and criticize others at the same time; it's impossible.
So when I find myself faced with those negative people and tempted to stoop to their level, I just start praising the Lord. I try to turn their complaints into opportunities to praise. It's amazing how God changes my attitude - praise always leads to positive attitudes!