7 Examples of Bad Attitudes in the Bible (and What We Can Learn)

7 Examples of Bad Attitudes in the Bible (and What We Can Learn)

Pastor Duke Taber

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The Bible is full of wisdom and guidance on how to live. But it also contains many cautionary examples of bad attitudes and their consequences. By studying these negative examples, we can learn valuable lessons about the attitudes and mindsets to avoid.

Key Takeaways

  • Bad attitudes like pride, jealousy, and anger are reoccurring themes in the Bible
  • Even great Biblical heroes had attitude problems at times
  • God wants us to recognize and repent of sinful attitudes
  • With God’s help, we can overcome negative attitudes and cultivate godly character

1. Cain’s Anger and Jealousy

One of the first bad attitudes seen in Scripture is Cain’s anger and jealousy toward his brother Abel. Genesis 4 tells us that Cain became furious when God accepted Abel’s offering but rejected Cain’s.

God warned Cain about his attitude, saying: “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Genesis 4:6-7 NKJV).

But Cain didn’t heed God’s warning. He let anger and jealousy consume him until he murdered his own brother. This story shows how dangerous unchecked anger and jealousy can be. We must deal with these attitudes quickly before they lead us into greater sin.

2. Pharaoh’s Pride and Stubbornness

The story of Pharaoh and the Exodus is a classic example of pride and stubbornness. Despite facing devastating plagues, Pharaoh refused to humble himself before God.

Even after acknowledging that he had sinned, his pride wouldn’t let him fully submit, as shown when he said: “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and entreat the Lord your God, that He may take away from me this death only” (Exodus 10:16-17 NKJV).

Pharaoh’s hardened heart brought terrible suffering on himself and his nation. Pride blinds us to the truth and keeps us from repenting as we should. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).

3. Samson’s Lust and Entitlement

Samson, the mighty judge of Israel, had some serious attitude problems that ultimately led to his downfall. He was driven by lust and entitlement, thinking he could do whatever he wanted.

This is seen in his pursuit of Philistine women. The Bible tells us: “Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines. So he went up and told his father and mother, saying, “I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife” (Judges 14:1-2 NKJV).

Samson’s parents warned him not to marry a pagan woman, but he insisted: “Get her for me, for she pleases me well” (Judges 14:3 NKJV). His “I want what I want” attitude led him into an unwise marriage that caused much trouble.

Later, Samson’s lust for Delilah led him to reveal the secret of his strength. As a result, he was captured, blinded, and enslaved by the Philistines (Judges 16). His lustful, entitled attitude created severe consequences. Proverbs 5:22 warns us: “His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, and he is caught in the cords of his sin” (NKJV).

4. King Saul’s Jealousy and Disobedience

King Saul started out as a humble man, but pride and jealousy corrupted him over time. Jealous of David’s success and popularity, Saul became consumed with trying to kill him.

His jealousy blinded him to his own disobedience to God. When confronted by the prophet Samuel about his sins, Saul made excuses rather than repenting:

“I have sinned, yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the Lord your God” (1 Samuel 15:30 NKJV). Even when he acknowledged his sin, his main concern was saving face before the people.

Saul’s disobedience cost him the kingdom. God rejected him as king and chose David instead. Jealousy and pride kept Saul from fully repenting, leading to his ruin. His story shows how vital it is to obey God rather than seek the approval of people.

TraitSaul’s AttitudeResult
JealousyConsumed with jealousy of DavidAttempts to kill David
PrideConcerned about honor before peopleExcuse-making, no true repentance
DisobedienceDirectly disobeyed God’s commandsRejected as king

5. Jonah’s Bias and Bitterness

The prophet Jonah had a bad attitude toward the people of Nineveh. When God called him to preach to this Gentile city, he ran the opposite direction, not wanting them to repent and be spared.

After Nineveh repented and God withheld judgment, “it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry” (Jonah 4:1 NKJV). He even told God: “Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!” (Jonah 4:3).

Jonah’s prejudice against the Ninevites made him bitter and resistant to God’s grace. He cared more about his own comfort (like having a plant for shade) than about people’s salvation. When we harbor bias and prejudice in our hearts, we’re not seeing people as God sees them.

6. Martha’s Worry and Resentment

In Luke 10:38-42, we see a bad attitude in Martha, a friend of Jesus. When Jesus visited her home, “Martha was distracted with much serving” while her sister Mary sat and listened to Jesus’s teaching (v. 40).

Martha complained to Jesus, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me” (v. 40 NKJV). Jesus gently corrected Martha’s worry and resentment, saying Mary had “chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (v. 42).

Martha had the privilege of hosting Jesus, but she was “worried and troubled about many things” (v. 41) and missed the opportunity to be with Him. Her frustration with Mary also created tension. This story reminds us not to let worries, distractions, and resentments steal our joy and peace. Keeping our focus on Jesus is what really matters.

7. The Older Brother’s Self-Righteousness

In Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), the older brother had a self-righteous, holier-than-thou attitude. When his wayward brother returned home and was welcomed by their father, “he was angry and would not go in” to the celebration (v. 28).

He complained to his father: “Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends” (v. 29 NKJV).

The older brother looked down on his prodigal sibling, thinking himself superior because of his good behavior. But his external obedience masked a heart that lacked love and compassion. In focusing on his own self-righteousness, he failed to rejoice in his brother’s repentance and restoration.

Self-righteousness is dangerous because it blinds us to our own need for God’s grace. As Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Mark 2:17 NKJV). Recognizing our own spiritual sickness keeps us humble.

How to Overcome Bad Attitudes

Now that we’ve looked at some examples of bad attitudes in the Bible, how can we overcome them in our own lives? Here are some key principles:

  1. Acknowledge the attitude. We can’t change what we don’t recognize as a problem. Prayerfully ask God to show you any negative attitudes in your heart.
  2. Repent. Confess wrong attitudes as sin and turn away from them. Repentance involves a change of mind and direction, not just lip service.
  3. Renew your mind. Replace negative thought patterns with biblical truth. Meditate on Scriptures that relate to your particular struggle (e.g. verses about love, humility, forgiveness).
  4. Practice gratitude. Cultivating a thankful heart leaves less room for things like anger, jealousy, and entitlement. Make a habit of counting your blessings.
  5. Walk by the Spirit. Rely on the Holy Spirit’s power to transform your attitudes. “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16 NKJV).

With God’s help, we can overcome sinful attitudes and grow in Christlike character. It’s a lifelong process, but as 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (NKJV).


The biblical examples we’ve explored show how destructive bad attitudes can be. From pride and anger to lust and bitterness, these negative mindsets lead to all sorts of sins and sorrows. But the Bible also offers hope for transformation through Christ.

As we seek to follow Jesus, let’s be quick to examine our own hearts and attitudes. May we be humble, grateful, and loving, reflecting the character of our Savior.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Are bad attitudes always sinful?
    While not all negative feelings are necessarily sinful, dwelling on them can lead us into sinful attitudes and actions. We should seek to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV).
  2. Can God forgive me for my bad attitudes? Yes! No matter how long you’ve struggled with negative attitudes, God’s grace is greater. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NKJV).
  3. What if I keep falling back into the same bad attitudes?
    Overcoming deeply rooted attitudes is a process. Don’t get discouraged if you stumble; just keep repenting and pressing forward. “Though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again” (Proverbs 24:16 NIV).
  4. How can I tell if I have a self-righteous attitude? Some signs of self-righteousness include looking down on others, feeling superior because of your moral behavior, and being quick to point out others’ sins while minimizing your own. Regularly asking God to search your heart can help uncover self-righteousness (Psalm 139:23-24).
  5. What’s the difference between conviction and condemnation? Conviction from the Holy Spirit brings godly sorrow that leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). It points us back to grace. But condemnation brings shame and feels like a dead end. If you’re feeling true conviction, don’t resist it. Repent and receive God’s forgiveness.

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