Philippians chapter 2 is a very special chapter, as it shows us the mind of Christ, and it all starts with humility.
The Mind of Christ
It’s impossible to know the Son of God without knowing the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom 10:17), and by reading the Word of God. This pursuit of biblical knowledge often brings us closer to the mind of Christ. For example, Philippians 2 tells us of the great humility of Christ. With this in mind, the Apostle Paul writes to the church at Philippi, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:3-4), because that’s exactly what Jesus did in going to the cross, so he says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” (Phil 2:5-6). He had every right and authority to bring down legions of angels to stop the crucifixion, but instead, “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1st Pet 2:23). Christ trusted the sure judgement of God so much that He raised not His voice, and even at the cross, prayed for those who were crucifying Him, so we must pray for our enemies, do good to them that hate us, and bless them that curse us. Besides, they bring us blessings, even inadvertently (Matt 5:10-12). I think part of praying for our enemies should include praying for their salvation. To love those who hate us and to bless those who curse us is not easy, but it is what someone with the mind of Christ would do (Phil 2:7-8), but even here, they could only do so with the help of Christ (Phil 4:13).
Minding like Christ
To have the mind of Christ we must have the humility of Christ, and we can learn of that humility through the gospels, particularly, the Gospel of John. In this gospel, we see His being honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable, and beyond measure in mercy and grace. He is also the truth, as well as the way and the life (John 14:6). In the gospels, you can read that Jesus’ mind was always fixated on doing the will of the Father (John 6:38), and His obedience was an outflow or by-product of His love for the Father. We don’t obey to be loved; we love…and out of that love for God, we naturally want to obey. It is our delight to obey, even though it’s still a struggle. Some of the most joyful people on the planet are those living in obedience to God. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15), and “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:10). The correlation is clear that “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14:21). Want a definition of what the love of God is? The Apostle John gives us one: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1st John 5:3). It’s impossible to dwell on what is “honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable” when you’re living in disobedience. To have the mind of Christ is to be minding like Christ; minding the will of the Father, that is. That’s also called, following Christ.
Thinking of Christ
When Jesus came down and was born of a virgin and took upon Himself the flesh of humanity, He wasn’t thinking of Himself. Paul says that Jesus Christ “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:6-7), so when we try to grab onto our “rights,” like someone else getting credit for something we did, or being bypassed for a promotion at work and the position goes to a co-worker who’s not been there as long as you are, think of Christ. He had rights as God but He didn’t claim them at the cross; otherwise, we’d still be in our sins. If only in this life we seek to be elevated above others, we’re not having the mind of Christ, but rather, a carnal mind. It was because of Christ’s great humility and submission to the Father’s will that “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” (Phil 2:9). Jesus warned that “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matt 23:12), and He was the supreme example of humbling Himself and later, being exalted to the highest degree. James, Jesus’ half-brother said, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). The Bible is clear that “One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor” (Prov 29:23), and Who has obtained more favor and honor than Jesus Christ? None! That’s not only because He is fully worthy of such glory and honor, but He humbled Himself and suffered shame, beatings, scourging’s, humiliations, illegal trials, and finally, an unjust crucifixion, but even with all this evil done against Him, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
When we are persecuted because we believe in God and have put our trust in Christ, think of Christ and how He was treated infinitely worse than we will ever be, but Paul had the wisdom to know that this was a way of getting to know Christ better. It was so “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Phil 3:10). Paul believed that he could know Christ better by entering into the same kind of sufferings as He had, although not nearly to the same extent (Isaiah 53), but for Paul, to suffer like Christ, is to better know Christ. Paul knew the mind of Christ well enough to know, that he must not respond to His enemies in like manner.
If we desire to have the mind of Christ, we should be looking to Christ, or “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2). To be like Christ includes the necessity of humility and submission to the Father’s will. God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). I don’t believe God will use anyone mightily until they have first humbled themselves greatly. That’s what the mind of Christ is like.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.