Moving In The Opposite Spirit of Cynicism

In this post, I want to share the idea that we can move in the opposite spirit that our flesh wants to take us.  We get to do something in our spiritual growth.  We get to walk by the Spirit and add more into our spiritual lives, like someone adding weights at the gym or increasing the distance or altitude of their walk, run, or hike.  And all of the good fruit that we're seeking to move in doesn't come from our efforts, but from Christ.  He paid for the exchange.  Following him means we get the exchange, the "in place of" or "instead of".

"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.  Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,  idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy,[a] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."  Galatians 5:16-24 (ESV) [a. Some manuscripts add murder.]

"By his divine power the Lord has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of the one who called us by his own honor and glory. Through his honor and glory he has given us his precious and wonderful promises, that you may share the divine nature and escape from the world’s immorality that sinful craving produces.
   This is why you must make every effort to add moral excellence to your faith; and to moral excellence, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, endurance; and to endurance, godliness; and to godliness, affection for others; and to affection for others, love. If all these are yours and they are growing in you, they’ll keep you from becoming inactive and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Whoever lacks these things is shortsighted and blind, forgetting that they were cleansed from their past sins.
   Therefore, brothers and sisters, be eager to confirm your call and election. Do this and you will never ever be lost. In this way you will receive a rich welcome into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ."  2 Peter 1:3-11 (CEB)

The Lord has given us everything we need.  We have to procure it, desire it, take hold of it, get activated in it, and develop it.  From the beginning, men and women have had to do something towards God and towards their own spiritual growth.  It has always been a partnership and a covenant where both sides do something.  This is in no way to be confused with you earning your spiritual place or saving yourself.  It is always with God and towards God, even when you are "in the dark" and have no sense of God.

What will I give my attention to, gaze at, look for, or move in and towards?  What we give our attention to is what we become.  You could call this the beholding - becoming principle.  If you constantly focus on not doing bad things, then you may become a person of good law; like a good police person or judge; and then as a Christian, your witness becomes that.  If you are just a love person, saying "all you need is love", without mentioning our savior; then as a Christian, you convey a cross-less Christianity where we can all just say we're sorry and hold hands in a circle.

It is about love and it is about doing good, but we can only love because God loves and we can only do good through God because of Christ.  The person who has become cynical is constantly focused on the wrong thing: they have a warped lens.   We can intentionally change the lens and start living differently, feeding our souls on the opposite of the hurtful, heart sick, and bitter ways of cynicism.

Earlier, I wrote about how the ugly by-product of burnout is cynicism.  Burnout is the result of lack of rest.  Burnout may also be the result of continual disappointment that has not been put to rest.  Loses need to be grieved.  Grief is a gift from God.

If you have a disappointment and you don't make appointments to meet with God, you start to believe that disappointment is the rule or way of life and you feed off it.  As the saying goes, "you are what you eat".  Burnout needs rest and a plugging back into God for renewal and refreshment.  Burnout not turned to God goes into cynicism.  What if your disappointment is all the time: "my life is a disappointment"?  Then you need to get a new life.  You can not see the kingdom of God unless you are born again.  Maybe you need new birth in some areas?

The believer's walk with God results in the fruit of God.  We have to do something: Walk by the Spirit and partake of Jesus in communion with him.  Do you commune with Jesus?  We become like the people we spend time with. 

The Christian life is not getting in a wheel barrow and having Jesus or other brothers and sisters carry us.  Actually Jesus paid for the road he wants us to walk on and other brothers and sisters are meant to help us along the way.  Along the journey, we get to hear each others story and share our dreams and encourage one another as we walk by the Spirit and partake of Christ in community.

We have to move in the ways of God, rather than just standing against the ways of hell or the works, ways, thoughts, ideas, and arguments of the flesh.  Some Christians are known for what they don't do or for what they are against, but Jesus said his followers would be known by their love.  What are you for?  What do you vote "yes" to, with your feet, and with your words and thoughts and deeds?  Those that love, naturally don't do destructive things.  Those that love God love as God loves.  They love their neighbor and love themselves.  How are you doing with love?

Some people are so afraid of legalism or earning their place in God through works, that they are phobic or allergic to doing.  The phrase, "just do it", when applied to the Christian life even scares them.  To that person, I say this:  What I am writing about starts in your thoughts, in your being.  It is all about looking at your savior who did it all.  It has all already been done for you. I believe in the church of the walking wounded. We don't wait till we are ready to go or to fight or to work.  We don't pretend we are not wounded or broken, but we know that God uses wounded and broken people.

When we have a negative in our lives, like cynicism; we need to move in the opposite spirit.

Please look at Isaiah 61, especially verse 3:

"The Lord God’s spirit is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me
to bring good news to the poor,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim release for captives,
and liberation for prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and a day of vindication for our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
to provide for Zion’s mourners,
to give them a crown in place of ashes,
oil of joy in place of mourning,
a mantle of praise in place of discouragement.
They will be called Oaks of Righteousness,
planted by the Lord to glorify himself.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins;
they will restore formerly deserted places;
they will renew ruined cities,
places deserted in generations past."

Isaiah 61:1-4 (CEB)

I learned about moving in the opposite spirit from wonderful Graham Cooke:  God wants to give us the opposite of the negative.  He has an instead of or in place of for us.  Instead of cynicism, God wants to give us a trusting, optimistic spirit.  Do you know who the most optimistic and positive person is?  This person is also the most intelligent person in the world and loves Jesus more than anything.  You might have guessed.  The Holy Spirit.  He wants to fill our lives.  He's not a bit discouraged, cynical, or disillusioned.

All the facets and manifestations of cynicism have been getting free reign in the lives of some people.  God wants to replace these negatives with godly positives.  Each of the positives are our new map.  As we travel in God in them and toward God in them, we grow in God in them, deeper.

Cynical definitions and opposites:

In place of: Negativity
  • Positivity
In place of: Distrust
  • Trust
In place of: Disdain: {To regard or treat with haughty contempt; despise.  To consider or reject as beneath oneself.  A feeling or show of contempt and aloofness; scorn.  From Old French desdeign, from desdeigner to reject as unworthy. Disregard, despise, hate, indifference, and arrogance.}
  • Admiration, love, favor, praise, respect, honor, esteem, adore, cherish, accept, toleration, veneration, appreciation.
In place of: Skepticism:
  • Optimism, trust, faith
In place of: Sarcasm
  • Kindness, praise, accolade, commendation, or compliment
In place of: Misanthropic (distrustful, suspicious)
  • Trusting, unsuspicious, cheerful, optimistic,  idealist, romantic, and sentimental.
In place of: Sardonic (disdainfully or skeptically humorous : derisively mocking)
  • Gentle, playful, amusing, gracious, affable, diplomatic, and hospitable.

Moving in the opposite spirit from cynicism is described below: 

  • Positivity: being a positive person.

  • Trust: trusting, willing to trust, willing to give a chance, to give permission.

  • Admiration
    • love 
    • favor 
    • praise 
    • respect 
    • honor 
    • esteem 
    • love
    • adore
    • cherish
    • accept
    • toleration
    • veneration 
    • appreciation

  • Optimism
    • faith

  • Kindness 
    • praise 
    • accolades
    • commendations 
    • complimentary

  • Unsuspicious 
    • cheerful 
    • idealistic 
    • romantic
    • sentimental

  • Gentle 
    • playful
    • amusing
    • gracious
    • affable 
    • diplomatic
    • hospitable

These are ways that are the opposite of cynical.  These are a list of the ways that are not natural for the person who has been cynical as a defense.  To come out of cynicism it is not enough to just stop it, but doing the opposite dis-empowers it and the enemy's power in the sinful, fleshly realm.

There are 7 points and 30 sub-points.  These are just my notes, my sketch of what the opposite of cynicism is to me.  A work in progress.  I might have left dimensions out that apply to your experience.  You can do the same thing: writing down the negative and then the opposite.  They are not affirmations, but positive thrusts at the negative ways that cynicism manifests in the person who is burned out.

When you move in the opposite of the ways of the sinful nature or in destructive ways, you are moving in harmony with God's ways: loving, gracious, faithful, hopeful, wise, or merciful; for example, and God gains ground and the enemy loses ground in you life.  When this process happens, you are growing towards becoming the person God sees you as in the future.  You can make a prayer list of these positive opposites.  When we are heart sick in burnout, we are not inspired to pray.  These exercises can help you pray.


  1. Cynicism detected. "then as a Christian, you convey a cross-less Christianity where we can all just say we're sorry and hold hands in a circle."

  2. Thanks for your comment, David. You are correct. Back when I wrote this in 2012, I was beginning to work on being less cynical.


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