We are often told to have a Christ-like attitude, and that in order to serve Him we must be totally like Him. But how do we accomplish this? What exactly does it mean to be like Christ? How can we, as imperfect humans, be like Christ who was perfect and without flaw? Philippians 2:1-8 is a perfect example and instruction for exactly how to achieve this.
“Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in the spirit, intent on one purpose.” -Philippians 2:1-2
In Philippians 2:1-2 we are called to have the same mind. But how does this specifically reflect on being like Christ? As you see in verse two, Paul says to make his joy complete by being of the same mind, the same love, by being united in spirit, and being for one purpose. Is that not what Christ came to do? We see all over the New Testament, in Acts 13:47, Mark 16:15, Matthew 5:16; Matthew 28:18-20, and so many other passages, to live and act in such a way that we bring others to Christ that we may be united in Him.
John 17:20-23 further discusses being one in Christ, and Christ’s desires for us all to be united. In His prayer, Jesus asks his heavenly Father in these verses, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone but for those also who believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they may also be in Us, so that the world may believe that you sent me.” How can we bring others to Christ if we are not of the same mind and body? How can we be in one Christ if we are constantly bickering about pointless opinions? How can we be one in Christ if we choose to love only some of our brethren? How can we be one in Christ if we have calamity with those whom we are to be in one accord with?
Paul discusses this very issues in Romans 14 where he discusses judging our brethren. This is not talking about issues of right and wrong, rather issues that are strictly a matter of personal judgement. For instance here he uses the topic of people who eat meat VS people who do not. Whether or not a man eats meat is not a sin, rather when you judge a brother as wrong for either one of those things, that is when it is sin. Why? Neither of them will come to a proper conclusion because that issue is simply not discussed in the Bible. This empty judgement only causes division and calamity in the church, and prevents us from having one mind in Christ.
Now, it is not very common for us these days to get angry with our brethren and their choices in food, but what about social media and whether or not it’s wrong? What about the exact proper length of a skirt for a person? What about whether or not you should court? These are small things that are a matter of personal judgement, yet we tend to take to them extremes. But how can we be of the same mind if we only discuss and debate these things in constant circles, yet refuse to confront our friends and family when we see that they have genuine sin in their lives? How can we be of mind if we focus so much on empty details that we separate ourselves and judge everyone who does not agree with us on every last detail? How can we be of one mind in Christ if we are holding others to our own opinions, rather than God’s law?
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also like Christ Jesus” -Philippians 2:3-5
To be like Christ, we must be selfless. Our world is one that is obsessed with the self. I counted and I have five different social media accounts that are all about me. Now, I am not at all saying that social media, or the use of it, is wrong. But there is something to be said about a world where the biggest industries are websites where people can dedicate a profile entirely to themselves. We live in a world where pettiness and self obsession are not only accepted, but promoted and glorified, yet we say we want to be like Christ, who was known for putting others before Himself.
To be like Jesus, we need to remember the needs of others before our own. That is not to say that our needs are not valid, that is not to say that we don’t need to take care of ourselves at all, but we need to always put others in front of ourselves. Talk to that recent widow, invite that new member to a church function, offer to study with someone who is in need of comfort. You can yell from the roof tops how much God has blessed you in your life, but until you have been a blessing in someone else’s life, what have you really done for Christ?
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond servant and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” -Philippians 2:5-8
To be like Christ, we must humble ourselves. This is one that I often struggle with. It is easy to want to glorify yourself. It’s easy to spend your whole life reaching for the top, wanting to be the best at everything you do. Be the best athlete, be the best at your job, be the best dressed, be the smartest at your school, whatever it is it can be easy to put forth all of your efforts into being the best. But is that what we are called to do?
Are we called to be the best, or are we called to spread God’s Word and to love others? We need to help our brothers and sisters and uplift them rather than ourselves. This means helping them in times of need, helping them in their goal to reach heaven, helping them emotionally and physically. Help your new neighbor move in, help out with your church potluck, help your classmate with his assignment, take time out of your busy schedule to help others.
Of course this doesn’t mean to ignore your own personal needs. I’m not saying to skip your doctor’s appointment to help a friend move. I’m not saying that if you’re sick that you have to just get over yourself to help someone else. I’m not even saying that if you just need general rest and time to yourself that you should downright ignore that need for the sake others. However, it’s important to remember that the interests of others should be put above our own, that we cannot make ourselves our number one priority, and that we cannot be so deep in our own little worlds that we forget to serve others.
Humility isn’t only in serving others, but it’s in attitude as well. In fact, humility is primarily about attitude. Jesus was obedient even to the point of dying on the cross, as we see in Philippians 2:8. Would you be willing to die on the cross? Would you be that obedient? Would you be willing to give up everything, absolutely everything, in order that others may be saved? If the answer is yes, then what is stopping you? How can we say that we would be willing to lose our lives for others to be in heaven, yet not be willing to lose our pride? Or our friends? Jesus was willing to give up His throne in heaven next to God, to come to this earth and suffer and be tempted, that we may have eternal life. How will you humble yourself for others?
Today I would like to encourage you take these three traits, and use them to be more like Christ. Use them to be of one mind, to put others above ourselves, and to be humble like Christ was. I would like to encourage you not to strive to be a better version of yourself, but rather to get rid of yourself and to be like Christ. Let’s work together to look at the life of Christ, and to use it to create a much larger crowd in heaven.