By Sharon Robertson, Lt. Colonel
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus (Phil. 2:1-5 NIV).
Personally I prefer the Authorized Version translation of that fifth verse: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.
The Christian mindset is an extraordinary gift, offered by God himself to all who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. It is a unique gift available to no other group in all of God’s creation. Although it is offered freely, acceptance is a matter of choice, never imposed upon any individual; that is God’s way, dictated by his desire for the mental and spiritual health of his people. Like any good father, God wants what is best for his children.
This Christian mindset is demonstrated in an individual’s determination to reflect Christ’s attitudes and intent in every aspect of one’s life—an extraordinary, unachievable goal apart from the indwelling Spirit of God. Yes, there are good people, people who strive to live honest, others-oriented, righteous lives on their own, but to reflect truly and accurately the mind and spirit of Jesus in one’s day-to-day practices and relationships, the power of his Spirit living within is absolutely necessary—it is he who maximizes whatever talents, skills and personality traits we may possess in order to bring about God-honoring results.
In the Christian, the mind of Christ is expressed in ways that are unique to the individual personality. Christ does not overrule the personal attributes and attitudes, nor does he dictate individual responses to the human situation. What he does is make it possible for those personal attributes, attitudes and responses to be tempered by his own. The degree to which that tempering takes place is up to the individual—God would desire that it be complete, but that choice, that life of God-honoring choices, is always the responsibility of the individual Christian.
The Christian mindset, though God’s personal gift, is not always easy to accept and implement. Most of us have had a lifetime of training in convincing ourselves and others that we are mature individuals fully capable of making our own decisions and watching out for our own welfare. It is not easy to release control—even to God. We wonder and worry and plan and fret and work ourselves into a frenzy of internal conflicts that God would love to resolve. The clarity of the mind of Christ is blocked by feelings of self-doubt, insecurity, uncertainty, and fear of what may (or may not) happen. Instead of moving forward in faith to accomplish the mission that God has set before us, we worry that we may not be up to the challenge.
We have not so learned from Christ. He longs for us to surrender our doubts and fears to him, to allow him to inhabit and renew our minds, so that our perceptions are altered by the awareness of his presence. He longs for us to turn our fears over to him, that we may be able to view the world through the mind of its Savior and Lord, and experience the peace and confidence found in oneness with him.
So make up your mind. What you focus on is your choice. Know that bad things happen; recognize that the world can be a scary place—but choose today to focus on the good things of God, on all the wonderful things he has done, and all the exciting possibilities, the joys yet to come. Choose to view your world from a new and positive perspective: the mind of Christ.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you (Phil. 4:4-9 NIV).