THESE TWO SIMPLE WORDS contain a wealth of meaning. If fully comprehended by the; individual saint they will make all the difference in his life, and if comprehended and applied by all saints will undoubtedly secure the success of the object for which the Church has been brought into being. The Church has not been taken out of the nations in order to return and improve the nations, or to reform them, but to preach the gospel to every creature, that others also may lie brought out to form part of a people for His name. Needless to say, those who obey the gospel will display a marked change as the result of the Holy Spirit’s operation through the Church in making disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to observe all things whatsoever He has commanded. If this objective is to be reached then those who comprise the Church must be faithful ambassadors and true witnesses for their Lord, possessing and being possessed by (he mind of Christ.
If the desirable effects of the first four verses of ch. 2 are to be produced “ in you," then the characteristics of “ this mind “ described in verses 6 to 8 call for our serious consideration, and the sincere embracing of the mind of Christ. It we regard the mind merely as a thought-producing piece of machinery we may grasp theoretically something of the mind of Christ, but shall utterly fail in its application to ourselves. Thoughts in Scriptures are fre¬quently associated with hearts rather than with brains, e.g. “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he “, or “ The fool hath said in his heart, there is no Cod”. The mind of Christ in us will produce something more than good thoughts, whether expressed by words or even deeds, as both of these can possibly be for display to man, and in consequence are glorifying to self. Good words and deeds may be the product of a kindly disposition and placid temperament, but the same; results produced by the mind of Christ will be accompanied by humility, and will succeed in displaying the beauty of Christ Jesus to the effacement of self. The three disciples on the holy mount saw Moses and Elijah and would have perpetuated their memory with tabernacles, but when God spoke to them concerning His pleasure in His beloved Son, and when Jesus touched them, they saw no man save Jesus only, and there was no more talk of tabernacles for Moses and Elijah.
That the word “ mind “ in this passage is intended to convey something more than mere thoughts is obvious by reference to other passages where the same word is translated “ be careful”, “ regard”, etc, and in Col. 3. 2 we have the significant translation “ Set your affection on “ things above. The mind of Christ in us is not to be a legal or laborious rule of life but something which we think, say or do ; and love to think, say or do.
Before we can embrace “ this mind “ we need to examine verses 6-8 to discover what it is.
Verse 6. He thought it not- a thing to be grasped at to be equal with God. He never manoeuvred for position. On that momentous occasion in John 13, He took the lowest place without any opposition from His disciples. Those who seek to manifest the mind of Christ in this direction will probably find that things have not changed much in the meantime. If I wash thee not thou hast no part with me “ still applies. We still need to submit to His washing by the Word that His mind may be produced in us.
” I ask Thee for (he daily strength,
To none that ask denied ; A mind to blend with outward life
While keeping at Thy side ; Content to fill a little space,
If Thou be glorified."
Verse 7. (a) “ He made himself of no reputation.” We may be very jealous of ours, with too much emphasis on reputation and not sufficient on character. Joseph left his reputation in the shape of a garment in the hands of an unscrupulous woman, but saved his character at the price of imprisonment. The mind of Christ will save us from attaching too much importance to what others think of our ability or gift, our personality or appearance. It is unthinkable that such concern should be in any way be connected with His mind in us. If it is correct to say that our reputation is just what others say about us, then it is a consoling thought that no-one can make it come true but ourselves, and a humbling thought that none can say worse of us than was said of Him.
(b) He who was in the form of God, took upon Him “ the form of a servant “. He did not only act like God, He was God. He did not only act like a servant, He became a servant in a very real way, without, of course, relinquishing His Deity. He never “ put on an act.” He never served condescendingly, but humbly and graciously. His example, if followed, will enable us to serve one another in love.
(c) He was “ made in the likeness of men.” How different from man’s mind. God was manifest in flesh. Men like to reverse that order and appear in the likeness of God. In the political world men like Hitler, Lenin and Stalin have been almost deified. The mind of man has endeavoured to abolish the true Deity and to establish their own. In the religious world men have been prepared to accept the bowed knee of their fellow human-beings. What is even more incredible is the fact that men who claim to be servants of the Lord Jesus are content to receive titles of honour quite out of character with their calling and the whole tenor of the Word of God. The Lord discouraged the use of such titles as “ master “, “ father “, “leader”, etc. (Matt. 23.8-12), the acceptance of which suggests a position, if not condition, of superiority. The absence of such titles in relation to the apostles is most noticeable. Paul refers to his fellow-apostles by the use of their plain names; Peter refers to him as “ beloved brother Paul “; and John, writing from Patmos, says, “ your brother and companion in tribulation."
Verse 8. This verse sums up with the words “ He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” His mind was such that He endured the cross, despising the shame. What shame there must have been attached to this spectacle ; what desperate characters had previously been the object of the mob’s scorn and derision.What scenes of degradation must have been associated with the death of the cross ; what humiliation ; what an expression of “ His mind “ which we are exhorted to have in us ! In Matt. 11. 29 the words of the Lord express much the same thoughts as Phil. 2. We are exhorted to voluntarily yoke ourselves to Him, and walking side by side with Him we learn His mind, and our heart will burn within us as we become conscious of His meekness and lowliness of heart, and as we cease from striving for the foremost place we shall find rest unto our souls. Surely this will make us more fit to herald His messages, who says to restless souls: “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest “ (v. 28).
THE RESULT of letting this mind be in us, of encompassing His mind within our hearts, will be the all-too-rare but absolutely-desirable condition of the local church as visualized by the apostle in verses 2 to 4.
In verse 2 the apostle’s joy is found in the likeminded-ness and greater loving unity amongst the people of God.
In verse 3 he sees the fulfilment of that joy in the lack of strife or ostentation in the assembly, and with such a mind prevailing each one will be low in his own estimation, and will esteem others better than himself.
In verse 4 we are able to visualize the saints having consideration for one another, and an excellent illustration is provided for us later in the chapter in the person of Epaphroditus. He had been sick, nigh unto death, for the work of Christ and was very sad, not because he was ill, but because the saints had heard about it. He longed after them all and looked not on his own things. He was a true disciple of Him who could say at the very threshold of Calvary, “ If ye seek me let these go their way," and again from the cross, “ Son, behold thy mother “.
Perhaps the secret of possessing the mind of Christ Jesus and letting His mind possess us is to be found in the voluntary acceptance in a very real way of the fact contained in verse 11 that “ JESUS CHRIST IS LORD”, so paving the way for happier individual lives and more fruitful assemblies, indeed, assemblies as nearly resembling heaven as is possible on earth.