1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
The last step in finding joy in our relationships through reducing conflict and increased cooperation has to do with developing the:
- Character of Christ
As Paul encouraged the Philippian church to be unified he reminded them that it was only possible to have peace by having the mind of Christ. But what is the mind of Christ? As Paul uses that word “mind” throughout the first two chapters of Philippians he is not using it like we typically would. When we use the word mind, we usually refer to some sort of mental exercise. But the way Paul uses it reveals something much deeper. It includes not only our conscious thoughts but our collective attitudes and actions as well. Paul is dealing with our demeanor, and the way we live life. Which includes both our internal thoughts and attitudes as well as our external actions. It involves how we think, feel, and act. Paul doesn’t just want us to see the mind of Christ, he wants us to have the mind of Christ. Paul is saying that we need to fix our attitudes, actions and mindsets on Jesus, which sounds good in theory but what does it mean in our day-to-day lives? It means that Jesus is our model, and our example. This is more than just what would Jesus do, its what if we would be Jesus. This is about developing the kind of mind that it took for the Son of God to step out of eternity and into time. I want you to take a trip with me that will involve every bit of your imagination and wonder. I want you to journey with me to His home in heaven. No not the home of harps that we have painted for people but the royal eternal dwelling place of God Almighty. Revelation 21 describes the breathtaking beauty, streets of gold, twelve gates made of one pearl a piece, foundations and walls constructed of every gemstone imaginable. But the beauty isn’t in the buildings, you see even the most beautiful, costly and rare precious materials we can experience here on earth are common compared to the real, true, precious beauty we will experience there. What if fascinating is that the most precious thing you can imagine here on earth will barely be noticed there because we will be in the presence of true beauty. We will be in the presence of the triune God. Revelation 21:23 says “And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light” Picture the most beautiful scene that you can, now imagine that scene so overwhelmed by the glory and beauty of God that it’s just a background, barley even noticeable. The song turn your eyes upon Jesus says it best, “the things of earth will go strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” This is what Jesus gave up, the riches and the relationship to come and redeem us. Jesus was willing to let it all go so that I could have God. It’s the complete opposite of what Satan said, “I will be like the Most High.” Isaiah 14:14. Out of his pride, he tried to grasp something that wasn’t his, yet Jesus out of His humility let go and gave up what was rightfully His and His alone. He made Himself nothing, which literally means that He emptied Himself. Jesus willingly chose to empty himself of His position in Heaven. He willingly chose to empty Himself of His dwelling place in the glory of God. He willingly chose to empty Himself of His completely intimate relationship. As God in the flesh, He willingly chose to limit His divine attributes. He limited His omnipresence; He was not everywhere at once. He limited His omnipotence, He became tired and hungry living in the limits and boundaries of a body of flesh. He chose to make Himself of no reputation, leaving His rightful place in Heaven and taking up residence in a dirty weary world. He traded a throne for a trough; He was willing to be stripped of His glory trading it for scraps of cloth. He traded power for poverty. He traded His omnipotence for the utter helplessness of a baby. He traded His omniscience for the mind of a baby. He traded his omnipresence for being moved only when someone picked Him up. The One who spoke the universe into existence had to learn how to talk. The One who fills everything with His presence had to learn how to walk. Jesus didn’t selfishly grasp onto His place and position of power. If you want to know how to get along with people, even those who are hard to get along with don’t just look to the example of Jesus live it. You see Jesus had a servant’s attitude, do you? How do you know if you have a serving attitude? Well how do you respond when people treat you like a servant? Do you get up-tight and demand your rights or do you serve? Jesus was willing to sacrifice Himself for others, are you, do you? Most of us spend our time grasping and grabbing instead of giving, no wonder our relationships are so worn. We love John 3:16 but do we live 1 John 3:16 “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters” You see Jesus did everything that He did for one purpose. He willingly left His glorious place in Heaven for one reason. He emptied Himself and became a man for one reason. Was it to die, ultimately yes, but it was so much more, because if death was the only thing He could have shown up on the day of His crucifixion. Yes, Jesus humbled Himself and died on the cross and this is very important, but it’s not the focus of the verse. The focus of the verse is why He humbled Himself, why He went to the cross. He did it because He was obedient to the will of the Father. Jesus humbled the will of His humanity and subjected it to the will of the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane as He prayed “Father, not my will but yours be done.” Jesus served out of submission and obedience to the Father. The truth is we are afraid of serving because we are fearful that we will become servants, and that we will no longer be in control. So we limit our obedience to serving without sacrifice, to serving without being a servant. Why don’t we submit to His Will? Because we are afraid that we will become door mats and others will wipe their feet on the face of our obedience. So we have settled for service without servant hood, observation of obedience instead of complete compliance. The real issue is we don’t let go of control because we don’t trust Christ. You see to have the mind of Christ means to want the Will of the Father. What does He want He wants us to stop grasping and start giving. What if this year you shared the greatest present of all the character of Christ? What if you replaced the strife with serving? What if you allowed His peace to penetrate your personal relationships? Will you allow Christ to take control of your mind, attitudes and actions? Whose will do you want?