"Let This Mind Be In You"

Daniel H. King

WHEN PAUL HAD AS HIS PURPOSE TO OFFER SOME great example of a particular quality of character, the first person who came to mind was Jesus. As when one thinks of strength of body he considers first Samson and when he conjures us some mighty intellect it is Solomon, so the apostle thought of Jesus when he brought up any virtuous characteristic of the human spirit. For him Christ was the epitome of virtue and the very face of God in human form.

This readily explains why, when concerned at the rumor of ill-feeling and quarreling among his beloved brethren at Philippi, Paul pled for unity and then proffered the model of Christ for their imitation. "Let this mind be in you," he wrote, "which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5). Though He was God, yet He condescended to become man. He forsook the grandeur of heaven for earthly servitude. He sacrificed the glory of heavenly existence for an ill-fated career as the slave of God. And He did that for others. Eventually He was exalted to heaven once more, enhanced as Lord of all because He first was willing to become the servant of all. The apostle sets him forth as the purest example of kind and self-sacrificing consideration for others. As he said in yet another place: "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).

This is the mind he would have us take upon ourselves. It is a mind of humility and self-denial. We cannot change our nature so as to become God; but we can change our ways so as to become like Him. We can assimilate this divine quality of human character by first appreciating our need for it and then altering those ways of thinking about ourselves and others that make its cultivation in our souls an impossibility. In other words, for us to plant flowers, we must first uproot the weeds.

Now this teaching is for us - for you and me. Ego and pride are the enemies of genuine Christianity in every age. If we take it upon ourselves to fashion our thought processes after the model of Jesus, the sure result will be today, as the, that we will be of the same mind, have the same love, be in full accord with each other, and we will not act from the motives of selfishness or conceit. We will tend to count others better than ourselves, and, before act or speak, we will consider the interests of others (Philippians 2:2-4).

The overall effect of such abandonment of self for the good of others is summed up in one word, a word which does not appear in this text but which is the ever-present theme of this part of Philippians. It is the term unity.

One of the greatest temptations for man is to make the attempt at justifying himself in whatever sin he was engaging in at the time. The Philippians were not reckless sinners. They were godly Christians. More good things are said about them by Paul per square inch of print than about any other church in the New Testament. but personal ambition seems to have gotten the best of a few. Two in particular - Euodia and Syntyche - are named as guilty (4:2-3). What they were fussing about e will never know. That much has been long forgotten. And isn't that ironic! To them it was undoubtedly of great importance. But Paul ignored that aspect of it (it's always something!). Only two things seemed of any relevance for him. First, there was the fact that two of his friends and co-workers were quarreling; and any time there is a quarrel there will be bad feelings in the place of love, then sin is crouching at the door. Secondly, when two people who are members of the church are at odds with one another, there is a tendency for others to get involved. People like to take sides with the one whom they like the most. When others follow suit, you have a tragic situation indeed. (Most of us ought to know; we have seen it happen enough times!)

So this little dispute between two ladies was, in embryo, the division of the church. For Paul it did not represent an opportunity to start another congregation across town. God may be able eventually to make something of such a situation. But for him it was a chance for the Devil to get his foot in the door at Philippi, in the church where he had had no luck before.

"Let this mind be in you," said Paul, "which was also in Christ Jesus." All of our interpersonal relationships will be happier if we will. The climate at work, the environment at home, and the atmosphere in the worship and work of the church - all will be more peaceful if we but will.

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