Wednesday, September 3, 2014

THE MIND OF CHRIST (Philippians Chapter 2)

Philippians 2:5, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 2:5-11 has been called the “hymn of Christ.”  It speaks to Christ’s example of humble service and selfless love through which He became “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8).  The passage traces Christ’s work through His preexistence, incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension.  It is an unrivaled testimony to the glorious nature of His sacrificial love, whereby He voluntarily put aside the free exercise of His divine privileges that He might take on manhood and save rebel sinners.  By His willing sacrifice He has provided for our salvation.  But He has also, in His humility, provided for us an example to emulate.

Amazing in this context is the exhortation given to us to “have this mind among (ourselves), which is (ours) in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).  The believer in Christ is one who has been called to the same radically-divergent way of thinking and manner of life.  We are to maintain an attitude that is contrary both to our previous way of thinking and that of the world at large.  “Looking out for #1” is the way of the world, but in this passage we are exhorted to “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

It is the nature of agape love to function in this manner.  Love “does not insist on its own way” (1 Corinthians 13:5).  In a culture consumed with ensuring and standing up for ones “rights,” Christ’s example of humble service is both instructive and compelling.  He “came not to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45).  In God’s economy greatness is measured in such terms (Cf. Mark 10:43). 

Philippians chapter 2 records three examples of those who possessed the mind of Christ.  Paul spoke of his ministry to the Philippians that way: “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all” (Philippians 2:17).  Paul joyfully served Christ by serving others.  He had previously spoken of his “desire to depart and be with Christ,” and though that is what he would have preferred, he was mindful of the need to continue on with the purpose that he might serve (Cf. Philippians 2:22, 25).  His life in ministry was all about serving others according to the example of Christ.

Paul wrote of Timothy as one who also possessed the mind of Christ.  He hoped to send Timothy to the Philippians soon (Cf. Philippians 2:19).  He knew that if he sent him that he would prove to be a blessing to the church.  Timothy’s relationship with Paul was such that Paul had “no one like him” (Philippians 2:20).  He knew that Timothy would be “genuinely concerned” for their welfare (Cf. Philippians 2:20).  What set Timothy apart from the others?  “For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 2:21).  To have the mind of Christ is to see to the interests of Jesus Christ.  It is to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, putting aside self-concern and self-interests in preferring that interests of the Master.

Paul also spoke of the example of Epaphroditus.  He was Paul’s “brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier” (Philippians 2:25).  Epaphroditus had ministered to Paul’s needs (Cf. Philippians 2:25).  Others had done the same, but it was the manner in which he served Christ that touched Paul.  Paul exhorted the Philippians to “honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me” (Philippians 2:20).

These were all men who possessed the mind of Christ and served Christ by serving others.  They found joy in selfless and sacrificial service.  They walked “in the same manner in which (Christ) walked” (1 John 2:6).  Though it might be quite contrary to man’s way of thinking, to have the mind of Christ is to think and live in a manner that meets with God’s approval.

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