The true believer will always have a strong desire to progress in the christian faith. This desire is, first and foremost, the desire to fulfill the great purpose of our salvation, as it is set before us throughout the bible. For example, in Ephesians 1:4 we read, “According as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (emphasis mine), and without blame before Him in love”. Being holy shows in our outward lives, but holiness itself is firstly inward; invisible to man, but visible to God. In Philippians 2: 5, Paul points us to an important aspect of this inward work: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”. He is saying that we should seek to think like Christ, but he is saying more than that. We are to seek to have the mind of Christ. As in all spiritual activities, we are to wait on God and, at the same time, make every effort to bring desires to pass. This verse is an exhortation to us to seek to have the mind of Christ. In order to do so we must know what the mind of Christ was in His earthly life. This is laid out for us plainly in the words that follow in verses 6 to 8. The key concept in these verses is progressive humbling of Himself.
Though He was, in His person, God the Son from all eternity, He did not graspingly hold on to this status and glory (verse 6). On the contrary, when He took human nature into union with His divine person, He emptied Himself of all reputation, as Isaiah prophesies of Him, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”(Isaiah 53:3). He adopted the form and status of a servant, and though He was, and continued to be, God the Son from all eternity, He took lowly, created human nature into permanent union with His person (verse 7). Then in that lowly human nature, He humbled Himself to the ultimate in obedience to the Father’s will for Him by dying, not a gentle dignified death, but the death of the cross: crucifixion, the most painful, slow and disgrace-laden death to which a human being can be subjected (verse 8).
So, how would we describe the mind of Christ in order that we might seek after it? It is a mind that is not concerned with defending one’s own rights and reputation, but is more concerned with the welfare and salvation of others. It is also a mind that is chiefly motivated by obedience to the will of God, than anything else in this life.
If we go back to the words which introduce this great passage of verses 5 to 8, we learn yet more of what having the mind of Christ means. Verses 3 and 4 exhort us, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others”.
Let us pursue holiness with all effort, keeping in always before us, the mind of our example, the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, only those who have received Christ Himself as Lord and Saviour are able to receive the mind of Christ.
(I will be on holiday next week but I will try to leave a holiday thought here if I can.)