The Mind of Christ

Some scriptures are quoted so frequently that the depth of their meaning is often lost in familiarity. One such scripture can be found in Philippians 2 verse 5: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” But what does this really mean? What exactly is the mind of Christ?

If you were to ask 100 well-meaning Christians if they would like to develop the mind of Christ, you would probably hear a “Yes” from every one before you even finished your sentence. But the question is more a matter of who is committed to paying the price and willing to go through the real life experiences that this development requires. Being possessed with the mind of Christ is an absolute necessity, made all the more important because of the growing evil and deception around us today.

The mind of Christ makes the difference between a preacher and a minister, a student of the Bible and a true disciple, an education and a revelation, a tinkling cymbal and the genuine fruit of the Spirit.

To have the mind of Christ is to be possessed with the ability to respond to life’s situations and people in the same manner our Lord Jesus would, to recognize the difference between light and darkness and have our priorities in the right perspective.

Recently our local assembly was blessed to receive a message on this scripture as Brother Singh took his time to make sure we understood its significance as it pertains to daily life. The premise of the lesson was that if the church is to produce fruit acceptable to God, we must strive to develop a likemindness revolving around Christ and the vision of the ministry. “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded.” (vs. 2).

Christ did not judge according to the seeing of the eye or the hearing of the ear but according to the deep, inward workings of God. (see Is. 11).

Brother Singh illustrated how the mind of Christ can only be developed through practical application and the doing of God’s will. (Matt. 7:21, 24-25). As we do, we “let this mind” begin to develop in us. In fact, even though prayer and study are important, these by themselves will never develop the mind of Christ in us unless we begin to walk in light. For example, we all know what it means to “esteem” one another better than ourselves, but how many of us consistently do it? Or do we only show more respect to those who have achieved more as measured by the standards of this world? None of us will sit on a throne unless our spirits are right.

This mind of Christ is so crucial to our Christian walk because it requires much more than the surface performance or the keeping of tradition we sometimes feel we can get away with. This mind, focused singularly on fulfilling God’s will, regardless of the cost, is worth looking into. Using Philippians 2 as a guide let’s look at some of the characteristics of this mind.

God’s Position

All of us have pedestals on which we place those things that are most dear to us such as God, family, work, or any number of things. The problem is that these pedestals are all of differing heights. The higher the pedestal the more important we deem what is on it. And so the question is, among all the pedestals in our lives, on what pedestal does God sit? Keep in mind that the position of that priority is not dependant of what we declare verbally but on how we live daily. After all, our priorities-as reflected in day-to-day life- are the greatest indication of the validity of our conversion.

Perhaps the greatest thing about the mind of Christ is that God is always maintained as the pivotal focus – no matter what. Plain and simple, Christ was single-minded and strove to serve and glorify God at every opportunity. Having integrity and a feeling of accountability toward God is exactly what the mind of Christ represents.

Whether in the wilderness, on a boat, at a wedding or preaching, Christ was consistent and focused in His purpose. But with so many things clamouring for our attention today it is difficult to maintain focus for long, especially because of our temptation and weakness. A lot of times we are more driven by circumstance than principle. Nevertheless, 1 Peter 4:1 admonishes us to “arm” ourselves with this mind that we may have the wherewithal to war against the lusts of this world and seek rather to follow the will of God.

Our service to God must not be sacrificed for anything or anyone.

Self-Abasement

This is not false humility but a rather unpleasant process that involves a dying to our natural desires and inclinations-a steady swim upstream against the current. While society continuously shows us the path to self-exaltation in this present world, Christ showed us that in the eyes of God, and as far as eternal life is concerned, often the way up is really down. Doing the opposite of Satan, Christ willingly dethroned Himself, paying an awesome price. “For this reason God hath highly exalted him.”

Even in the church we can get carried away with jockeying for position and gaining personal glory. “I know what Jesus taught on the Sermon of the Mount, but I can’t wait-I need some acknowledgement now!” There is a definite trend in mankind. He would rather try to gain credibility and prestige through talking rather than walking – the path of least resistance. Even when we do walk we can do so with an ulterior motive such as giving in order for others to see.

But the mind of Christ is born out of a genuine conviction, desire and the ability to see afar off. Contentment in position and possessions takes the place of dissatisfaction and grumbling. Though people may not acknowledge our acts of kindness we should not take ‘shortcuts to glory’ by reminding them of our own goodness if Christ’s mind is to be developed in us. Let it go and maintain a spirit of meekness. The very word “meek” is defined by one’s “ability to endure injury patiently and without resentment.” Easier said than done.

A ‘Reach-Out’ Spirit

The mind of Christ is a mind that seeks out opportunity to do good, to lighten loads and draw people to truth. Even if it means inconvenience, the mind of Christ looks beyond temporary comfort esteeming the needs of others greater than its own. Starting small by going out of your way to give someone a ride, buy someone some groceries or visiting a lonely or sick person is a good way to begin developing this mind. It is a matter of taking and seeking opportunity to do good and meet needs regardless of the response or your personal acclaim. Remember, you can’t live “Two in the Godhead” or “The First Resurrection” but you can reach out to others without murmuring.

One thing must be clear. You can reach out based on your convenience or your abundance, and yet, though this is not an evil, look how far Paul was willing to go: “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.” (v.17). The greatest gift the ministry can receive is to see people begin to develop this mind and the fruit that comes with it.

There is reaching out and then there is giving all of oneself. Remember the widow who cast “all her living” into the treasury. It is because of this distinction that Paul made a very sad statement regarding certain elders who, though they attended church and probably performed certain duties, were double-minded. In speaking of sending Timothy to Philippi, Paul said: “For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” (vs. 20-21). Timothy would have been a good example for the saints in Philippi to follow.

Witness

“And Jesus, when he came out, saw the people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd…” (Mark 6:34). The way in which we view others, especially those that are ungodly, will greatly determine our response and the sincerity with which we reach out to them. Though we cannot save anyone ourselves we are to be fellow workers together with God, “peradventure” He might give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. (2 Tim. 2:25).

Paul put it very well when he stated that disciples must stand “in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world: holding forth the word of life…” (vs. 15-16). It is our light, not just our words, which is to shine. Driving past an old country church one day I saw an interesting signboard that said, “Preach the gospel at every opportunity. If necessary, use words.”

Light can both attract and dispel. In fact, when it comes to the true gospel it may dispel more than it attracts, but regardless of what God does we must not dim our light in compromise to darkness. We must get to the place that we are the influencer-whether it is at work, among unsaved family or in the neighbourhood – not the ones being influenced.

When our Lord spoke of separation, He was not referring to contact with evil in the world or in the church, but with complicity with it and conformity to it. Though He was holy, harmless, undefiled and “separate from sinners”, Christ was in contact with them for their salvation so much so that the Pharisees, who illustrate the mechanical conception of separation, judged Him as having low character.

The discussion on the mind of Christ is endless. He is an awesome example as are the ministers He has blessed us with. Yet rather than focusing our attention on identifying all of these attributes and packaging them into nice bundles to be taught and admired, we would do better to live some of these principles and experience what it is to develop, not debate, the mind of Christ. We must get a hold of the vision the ministry has shown to us and start acting upon it.

Most of all, we must condition ourselves and pray God for endurance that we may be able to see afar to the joy that is also set before us and be persuaded of the Father’s promises in our own minds.