Thursday, April 30, 2015

Oh to Have a Mind Like His!

     Some people are slow in making decisions and others jump right in without checking all the facts. We see this every day in our world.  In either extreme, mistakes can be made.  The person who is slow to decide may miss the opportunity set before them.  On the other hand, the person who jumps in may find he/she made a serious error in judgment which may result in loss of some sort.  So how do we find balance?  How can we have a mind like Christ?
     In his letter to the believers at Philippi, the Apostle Paul penned these words:  "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, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:5-11).  This is our starting place for examining the mind of Christ.  Lets break it down.
     Within the first verse of this passage, we come to understand that Jesus did not cling to His privileges.  While He was, indeed, God, He was also fully man.  He purposely laid aside any advantages He had in order to humble Himself and become like a servant.  In conversation with His disciples, Jesus frequently reminded them that if any one of them truly wanted to be great, he must be a servant to all.   Jesus never ceased to be God, but He emptied Himself relinquishing heavenly status so that He might come and bring us salvation along with an example of how to live.  For us to have the mind of Christ, we must be willing to do the same.  Serving others, putting aside our comforts so that we might help others and reaching out to help the less fortunate are ways we can have the mind of Christ.  It takes practice because we often have too great an opinion of ourselves and our abilities.  Our Lord was decisive but studied in all He attempted to do.  He took time to humble Himself in prayer before taking any action so He could honestly say He only did what the Father had told Him to do.  Can we say that of our activities?  Our decisions?
     A second characteristic of the mind of Christ is obedience.  Not only was Christ lowly in heart, He also followed the Father's commandments perfectly.  There was never a time when  Jesus sinned (2 Cor. 5:21).  His submission to the Father's will had no flaws.  Even in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus knew He would face unbearable agony of body and soul, He told His heavenly Father "...if you are willing, remove this cup from me.  Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done" (Luke 22:42).  This is what submission looks like.  Here is the mind of Christ.  He laid aside His equality with the Father to be a completely obedient Son.  He restored what the first Adam lost in terms of His unqualified surrender to the Almighty Father.  What an example of love for us.
     In closing his thoughts about the mind of Christ, Paul writes that God was pleased to exalt Him and give Him the name above all names.  Why?  Because Jesus fulfilled His mission as our perfect sacrifice having no spot wrinkle or blemish in His thinking or actions.  Unlike those of us who are indecisive because we have either a) not asked God for wisdom or b) never looked into the Word of Truth;  or those of us who make decisions on the fly like Peter drawing a sword to lop off the ear of the high priest's servant, Jesus kept His perspective.  He fulfilled humbly the call of God and let nothing sway Him or get Him off track.  Likewise, He remained fully obedient to His Father.
      Here is the truth, though, dear friends.  We cannot have the mind of Christ unless we have the power of the Holy Spirit living within us moment by moment.  This should come as no surprise to us.  We have a mind often guided by the flesh rather than the Spirit of God.  While we may have good intentions, we often get off the track.  However, God is at work in us to conform us to His dear Son by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).  We are to test things so we can discern God's will for our lives.  If we are faithful, He will direct our steps.  The first place to begin is in prayer so that we might hear from the Lord what He wants for our lives.  Additionally, the Bible is like a road map for us to follow in decision making.  We need both of these elements to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, but the important thing is to begin this process.  Let us strive to have the mind of Christ daily so our decisions will bring glory to our Lord.  Selah!

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