“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset of Christ: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2: 6-8).
There are many kinds of mindsets we can take on in this world. There’s a winning mindset, a loser mindset, a focused mindset, and, my favorite, a disciplined mindset. Recently, I found that the Apostle Paul talked about a mindset that is rarely, if ever, discussed – the mindset of Christ. Based on the world’s standards, it is not a very glorifying mindset. But let’s be honest, anything that is glorified by this world is usually the opposite of God and His commands. Out of all the mindsets we can take on, this mindset is the one that matters most.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, Mindset is “the established set of attitudes held by someone.” The Apostle Paul said that we should have the same mindset as Christ. We need to ask, “What set of attitudes did Christ have?”. Paul gives us a small idea. “He did not consider equality with God something to be used to His advantage.” “He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.” “He humbled Himself to the point of death.” For Paul, this was the focus of his letter to the Church of Philippi, but is there more the mindset of Christ than these principles Paul writes about?
The principles Paul includes are foundational for the mindset of Christ – humility and service. Both of these qualities are the opposite of the world’s mindset – position and power. Jesus, the Son of God, the Creator of the world, the King of kings, stepped down from his throne of power and position, became nothing, was beaten, mocked, and ridiculed, and died on the cross for humanity. Go back and read that again. The Creator of humanity died for His creation. Let that sink in. What better example of humility and service is there?
Let’s go a little deeper. John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him” (John 1:1, 11, 14a). Jesus was in the beginning; He helped create humanity. He watched as His creation turned their back on Him and chose to serve themselves and the prince of this world. He watched repeatedly as His chosen people turned their back on him. He wanted nothing more than to have a relationship with his creation. To open the door for humanity to have a whole, authentic relationship with Him, He stepped down from His throne, lived with humanity as a servant, and gave His life for the ones that chose to walk away from Him in the first place.
When was the last time you sacrificed yourself for someone who turned their back on you and treated you with disgust and disdain? Our finite minds cannot comprehend this kind of mindset. We want justice. We want to be right. We want those who hurt us to hurt in return. This is the mindset of this world. Yet the mindset of Christ looks past the hurt, brokenness, pride, and stubbornness. The mindset of Christ chooses to serve through humility and love rather than justice and self-righteousness.
It would have been easier for God the Father and Jesus Christ to start over. Erase the mistake of humanity and try again with a new creation. A potter begins to mold a vessel. If that vessel becomes too weak or unstable, the potter smashes it back down and starts again. However, some potters see imperfections as beauty and will do what they can to finish the unique piece, blemishes and all. This is what Jesus Christ did for us. He created humanity with His Father in Heaven and called us good. He gave us free will to choose the path we wanted to walk in life. Humanity craved equality with the Creator, so they disobeyed His simple command and broke the relationship with YHWH.
Jesus Christ, who is God and has equality with God, chose to make himself unequal to God and took on the form of humanity. His mindset was not focused on power and position. He didn’t claim equality with God even though He very much had it. His mindset was one of humility. You see, power doesn’t present love. A commanding presence doesn’t demonstrate love. Service is the highest level of love we can give each other. This is why Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Humility is the ultimate embodiment of love.
What does humility look like? Anyone can admit they are wrong or turn the other cheek, right? Humility is much more than this. The servant is the greatest example of humility. A servant does not live in self-righteousness. A servant will do the worst task without complaining. A servant will be obedient no matter what. Does that mean we obey others? Not exactly. The Apostle Peter wrote, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). The first step in humility is to humble ourselves before God. The mindset of Christ would say, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Did you catch that? The order for humility goes – God, others, then ourselves. This is Christ’s mindset.
Jesus humbled himself and became obedient. He didn’t obey the religious leaders. He didn’t bend to the will of the government. Jesus was obedient to His Father in Heaven. He knew what He had to do and submitted himself to His Father’s will. A Christ mindset is one of total submission to YHWH. Even when He didn’t want to go through the pain and agony of betrayal, beatings, and crucifixion, He chose to submit to His Father, who raised Him up and glorified Him through the resurrection.
None of us have been called to die for the world, as that has already been fulfilled through Christ Jesus. We have, however, been called to love our neighbors. We have been called to walk the extra mile, give the shirt off our backs, and give to those in need. You see, the mindset of Christ is one of pure dependence on Jesus. It’s about being uncomfortable doing the things the world finds strange, appalling, and ridiculous. It’s about living a life of sacrifice, humility, and obedience to YHWY and His word.
With all the mindsets that are preached in this world, consider having the mindset of Christ. It is only through Him that we become winners. It is only through Him that life has meaning. Consider humility, obedience, and sacrifice something to be cherished rather than things of which to be ashamed. “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset of Christ: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2: 6-8).