January 2024 | Conversion: Persecutor Turns Promoter

Mind of Christ

Mind of Christ

Mr. Philip Samuel

Let this mind (of Christ) be in you – Phil 2:5

The Bible tells us, that to have the mind of Christ is indicative that the work of transformation is possible and we can think differently than we used to in former times. When we have the mind of Christ we will begin to see things the way they appear to the eyes of God.

NASB version of Phil. 2:5 reads, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus”

Everything in our life, depends upon our attitude: our participation in worship; our responsibility to our spouse and children; dealing with people; handling temptation; enduring suffering; relationships with other Christians etc can be effectively dealt with only if our attitude is right. Solomon reminds us in Prov. 4:23, "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life."  

Developing a good attitude enables us to gain proper focus and clarity as we approach the various aspects of life. The individual qualities to be built up for a good attitude are packed into verses 1 through 4 of the same chapter are: love, affection, mercy, and joy and then, consolation in Christ; comfort of love; lowliness of mind. Further, observe what is forbidden: selfish ambition and conceit. An attitude of unselfish humility pleases God, helps us follow Christ, grants personal peace of mind, and enables one to live in harmony with others.  

We cannot be united with each other until we are first united with Christ. Our relationship with God through Christ is the basis of a good relationship with each other. Likewise, those one who lives in Christ will work with a godly attitude and this displays an attitude of unity. 

The love of Christ is the central element of Christian belief and theology, referring to the love Jesus Christ had for humanity and to the love Christians have for Christ. These two aspects are not distinct in Christian teachings—the love for Christ is a reflection of his love for his followers. 

 I highlight two aspects of the character of Jesus that will build in us the Mind of Christ:-

The Selflessness of Jesus Christ

In Phil.2:1-3 Paul encourages the believers in Philippi to be of one mind and not to be selfish toward one another. Paul then gives the supreme example of what it means to “do nothing out of selfish ambition” in v.3. He exhorts his readers to have the same attitude Christ had when he did this. In verses 5-11 Paul picturises how Christ demonstrated that attitude.

I do not intend to get into the theological aspects of the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ now, but wish to explain that Jesus became a servant, giving up the ‘way of life’ of a deity to take on the ‘way of life’ of a servant. Jesus exchanged the form of God for the form of a bond servant (v.6-7) 

In v. 6 Paul says, "who although He existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.” Paul moves back through time into eternity into Christ's pre-incarnate state before Christ became a man to reveal to us what led Christ to his decision to become a man. 

"Form" (morphe) in the Greek is the outward expression of something, a mode of existence of something, how something manifests itself or displays itself outwardly. "God" means "deity." Paul says in Jesus' pre-incarnate state He existed in a state of the outward expression of God which is how God manifests himself in heaven. 

And what in Scripture is another word for the manifestation of God or the display of who God is? It is the glory of God. God's glory is the manifestation of who He is. It is the outward expression of the nature and attributes of God. The "form of God" is the “glory of God." (Ex. 33:17-23) 

Before the Son of God became a man he existed in the fullness of the glory of God. Christ displayed in His person the fullness of God's glory. One of the ways that glory is expressed is by light (1 Tim. 6:15-16, Rev. 21:22-23). Before the Son of God became a man He dwelt in unapproachable light; He manifested the splendour and majesty and glory of God. He was merely manifesting His essence that is His deity. “Form” (morphe) implies that Christ is God because it is the outward manifestation of one’s inward essence; only God can manifest the glory of God. 

But in v. 6 Christ did not hold onto this existence in this outward manifestation of his deity. Paul says that He "did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped. "Equality with God" is literally in the Greek “to be (exist) equally with God." 

"Equally" is a neuter adjective which functions adverbially. An adverb describes manner of being, how Christ existed. This is another way of describing the form of God, the outward manifestation of God. What does it mean to “exist equally with God”? It means to exist equally in position, authority, privilege, and glory as the Father and the Spirit, as God. This equality is not in person or essence, but in manner of existence. Again, this implies deity, because only God can exist as God. 

Paul says that Christ did not regard His existing in divine position as something to be held on to or to be grasped tightly. But He was willing to give it up. He is like an earthly king who had all the wealth, prestige, position, honour, and glory yet was willing to give it all up, for a time, to meet the needs of his people. It is not giving up His kingship, but the outward expression of it. 

What an incredible attitude, humility and selflessness! When there was a need for Him to give that up temporarily, He humbly and selflessly did so. 

In v. 7 Paul says "but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant and being made in the likeness of men." 

When He laid aside the outward expression of the majesty and splendour of God, He did not empty himself of His essential glory, which is part of His divine nature. He temporarily laid aside the outward expression of His divine position, authority, privilege, honour, and glory. He veiled His glory, stopped exercising His authority as God, stopped using His privileges as God, stopped receiving honor due Him as God - all the while still being God and still having all these things in His essence. He did this by taking the form of a bondservant and by becoming in the likeness of men. Both of these clauses describe what He did when He emptied Himself and what took place at the moment of emptying. 

Paul says in v. 7, "taking the form of a servant." Christ emptied Himself of the form of God, the outward expression of deity and took upon himself the form (morphe) of a servant. “Servant" is “doulos” and refers to one who is in subjection to someone else, one whose will is submitted to the will of another. 

Christ took upon Himself the outward expression of a servant. Christ exchanged dwelling in glory for dwelling as a servant. Christ exchanged dwelling in authority and honor, as the ruler of the universe, for dwelling in submission and obedience, the submission and obedience of a servant. And whose servant did He become? God's! (Jn. 4:34, Jn. 5:30). 

This is Christ’s attitude. The perfect master became the perfect servant. He not only showed the outward form of a servant but He was indeed a servant. This speaks of his human nature. He became a servant of God, by becoming a man. He was "being made in the likeness of men" – meaning  “to become an exact representation of something else in its appearance.”  In other words, when Jesus took the form of a bondservant he became in appearance as a man. He didn't look any different from other men. The emphasis by Paul here is not on Jesus' becoming a man (although that is stated by Paul in other Scriptures), but how he appeared outwardly. 

He exchanged the outward glory of divine perfection for the imperfect body of humans. He exchanged the throne of God for the world of men on earth. He exchanged the privileges of deity for the toil and labor of man. He exchanged the authority of deity for the servitude of men. But yet, He was willing to do this. 

Why? In the humility of His mind, He regarded us as more important to Himself than He was to Himself. 

This Paul describes in v. 8, Paul says, "And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Paul wants to describe to the Philippians the extent to which the Son of God went on thinking of others before Himself in pure humility. Christ not only entered the human realm, but when He was in this human realm He humbled Himself. He lowered Himself even farther than He had already done and became obedient (as a servant of God) even to death on a cross. 

Then Paul not only wants the Philippians to be motivated to be humble by Christ's attitude and consequent action, but also by the results of Christ's humility. What happened when He displayed this humility? He was exalted, lifted up in honor to the highest place. Read v.9-11, which describes the exaltation of Jesus Christ to the highest place of honor, with a Name above all names, to whom all will bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!

Esteeming others better 

God commands us as Christians to do so! What does it mean? And how can we fulfill this instruction? 

Can you imagine the president of a large corporation esteeming a lowly, production-line laborer better than himself? Or a professional baseball player considering an insignificant bat boy of greater importance?  How about a top-ranking government official being more concerned with the comfort and happiness of his constituents than his own?  In this age of vanity, competition and greed, it's hard to imagine any of these situations taking place. Satan has so bombarded this society with a spirit of hardness, indifference and self-importance that we automatically think of our own interests first and others' second. We want the chief seat, the top honors and the best advantages, without concern for anyone else. Yet God requires all true Christians to esteem others above themselves. 

Notice Paul's inspired command to the Philippians: "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves" (Phil. 2:3).  

Did Paul mean that he as an apostle should look on the members of the Church as being above his office, or that a pastor should consider his position less important than that of an usher?  

Did he mean that a husband should think of his responsibility as being less than that of his wife and children?  

Are we required to have feelings of inferiority about ourselves? Should we feign humility over our abilities when we are better skilled or more qualified than others to do a task or hold an office?  

Of course not!  

To understand, let's first notice several other translations of this verse. The Williams translation says, "Practice treating one another as your superiors." The 20th century New Testament states it, "Each of you should... regard others of more account than himself." The New American Standard Bible has it, "Let each of you regard one another as more important than himself."  

This verse, then, has to do with being lowly in mind — abasing and humbling oneself in preference to others. It means putting the interests, cares and comforts of our fellowman above our own — forgetting ourselves in sacrifice and service.  

Paul further admonished: "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another... Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits" (Rom. 12:10, 16).  

Moreover, we as Christians should extend this attitude of honor to the unconverted of the world. God doesn't want His people to totally isolate themselves from non-Christians, but rather to be an example of His love, kindness and good works. 

Christ said, "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil" (John 17:15). And again, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16).  

Esteeming others above ourselves, then, describes the attitude God wants Christians to develop as a basic approach to life - whether toward each other or toward the world. It can only come through dying to one's self, taking on God's nature and being filled with His mighty love. 

Christ set the example

Jesus Christ set a perfect example, throughout His life, of obeying this principle. Notice that just after commanding Christians to esteem others better than themselves, Paul said, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). This verse shows that Jesus Christ practiced the very admonition that Paul enjoined. Christ did not strive to please Himself, but to put the needs and feelings of others above His own.  

"Let everyone of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself" (Rom. 15:2-3). Paul wrote, "Christ... being in the form of God... took upon him the form of a servant... humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Phil. 2:5-8).  

Time and again Christ exemplified an attitude of service toward all within His reach.  

He expressed a special love and compassion for the poor and uneducated- the down-and-outers. He was a friend of publicans and sinners. He took a personal interest in little children, thus showing that His concern reached out to all classes and age groups.  

Jesus stooped to heal and console the sick and afflicted. He called and dealt with the weak of the world, including His own disciples- He considered them friends, prayed for them and expressed a keen desire for their success.  

Our Savior even had concern for the thief on the cross while He Himself was dying. He humbled Himself at every turn and became a lowly servant.  

And He did so not only because He loved people, but also to set an example for us to follow!  

In order to develop this attitude we must first realize that God has called us out of the world not only to repent of our sins, but also to repent of what we are - greedy, grasping, selfish people. He wants us to turn to Him with all our hearts so that He can infuse in us the very mind and nature of His Son Jesus Christ.  

The new disposition that God wants us to acquire is a complete reversal of our former motivation. God wants us to empty ourselves of vanity and self-centeredness so that the happiness and well-being of others becomes uppermost in our minds.  

God's desire is for us to lose our sense of self-consciousness and replace it with an attitude of outgoing concern for all - an attitude of wanting to see them grow, advance and prosper.  

As we yield to God and His Holy Spirit, a miraculous change will occur in our lives. We will take on a new heart, nature and outlook. We will become kinder, more thoughtful and compassionate. We'll find that serving others will become a sheer joy and delight.  Moreover, this new disposition will become a daily habit - a spontaneous way of life (Gal. 5:22-23). 

What we can do

Here are some practical ways for each of us to fulfill God's command to esteem others better than ourselves. 

Care for the fatherless and the widows. James wrote, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world" (Jas. 1:27). 

A major test of how converted we are is how we respond to the needs of people less fortunate than ourselves. 

Invite into your home for dinner and fellowship with fellow Christians who can't repay you. Notice Christ's instructions about how we are to share the resources with which God blesses us: "Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just" (Luke 14:12-14). 

Donate food and clothing to the poor and destitute. God has blessed many of us with tremendous material abundance, and He wants to see how we use it.

"But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth" (I John 3:17- 18).  

Pitch in to help friends and neighbors caught in desperate straits. Do we refuse to or, by neglect, fail to respond when we are aware of others in need?  

Pitching in might involve helping a farmer gather his crops before they are damaged by inclement weather, assisting a family with household chores when either father or mother is sick or cutting firewood for a widow before winter sets in. 

Encourage those who are downcast or heavily burdened. As Solomon wrote, "Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad" (Prov. 12:25).  

Radiate enthusiasm — it's contagious. Be sincerely cheerful. Try to pick up the spirits of those around you. 

"Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another" (Rom. 12:10). 

Befriend children and teenagers. Today's society is, literally, an obstacle course for young people. Problems, temptations and wrong influences can overwhelm youths. Whether by example or by direct involvement, where possible and where wise, help steer young people in the right direction (Prov. 22:6). 

Don't be ashamed or embarrassed to do the most menial tasks in serving your brethren in God's Church. Christ, the supreme servant, set the example for us to follow (John 13:2-5). Is it too much to ask for us to clean the home of someone who is sick, bathe or provide transportation for an invalid or clean up after a church social?  

Be grateful. Say "Thank you" for even the smallest things that others do for you. A note of appreciation or a phone call to someone who renders you a service shows that you recognize and esteem his generosity. Paul wrote that we should give thanks for everything (I Thess. 5:18).  

Help a fellow employee succeed. Has a fellow worker fallen ill? Perhaps you could offer to handle some of his responsibilities. It may prevent him from losing his job.  

If you're a boss, treat your employees with fairness, honesty and concern for their welfare. Notice Paul's admonition: "Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven" (Col. 4:1). 

A "now" command

Esteeming others better than ourselves is simply a matter of expressing love and humility and thinking of them first. It is putting their lives, comforts and interests above our own. It is the essence of true Christianity and sums up the meaning of genuine godly love. 

Every command of God is a "now" command — not a suggestion to be put off until tomorrow or next week. Now is the time to humble ourselves and get down to business. Let's strive to become holy vessels in which God can live and manifest His way of life to all mankind. 

Why not start right now?

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