Thinking Like Jesus
When I was in elementary school, a long, long time ago, we received report cards every quarter. And not only did we get grades ranging from A to F for reading, writing and arithmetic, but we also got another grade that was simply pass/fail for conduct. At my school, that grade was either an S for satisfactory or an N for needs improvement. I can assure you that if, and sadly when, I came home with that N, it might as well have stood for: Not gonna be a good day for me; or No TV for a month; or Nothing good is gonna come from this when my mom sees it! I am embarrassed to say that I speak from experience.
Try as we might, sometimes we struggle to get that conduct right; not only as children, but even as adults! And if we’re brutally honest, sometimes we struggle to live up to our calling as Christ-followers too.
The Apostle Paul implores the Believers in Philippi, and us: 27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Philippians 1:27a. So if you were graded with an S or N, based on the rubric Paul gives us in this verse, what grade would you receive today, or last week, or last month, or last year? Most of us would admit, “God is still working on me!” After all, we all sin and fall short of the mark God has set for us. (Romans 3:23)
The great news is, in Philippians 2:1-11, Paul goes on to give us some priceless, inspired insight about how to live in a way that honors God and creates the unity that leads to victory and joy in life’s journey!
We know that Paul had received word that there was some division in the Philippian Church. We don’t know what the issue was, but clearly there was some kind of jockeying or bickering going on that was dividing the church. (Ref. Phil. 4:2)
Paul didn’t want this disunity to fester or linger because it would only get worse. The truth is, it’s imperative to deal with disunity in any significant relationship before it grows or spreads, like cancer, whether it’s in your marriage, your family, or your church family.
Unity is essential in significant relationships to experience victory and joy in life! Where there is no unity there will be misery. So what does unity look like and what is the source of our unity in those relationships? Philippians 2:1-11 is a powerful passage that paints a vivid picture of the unity born out of who Believers are in Christ. In this text, we discover three steps we can take to experience unity in our relationships with those who matter most:
1) Recognize that true unity is found in Christ! (Philippians 2:1)
The undeniable tie that binds all who believe is Jesus Christ. There is always a special bond that is shared by Believers simply because of our commonality in Christ as Savior and Lord! Unity comes from within; it is a matter of the heart. So when disunity is present, it is evidence of a heart problem. Paul made clear that hearts are united with Christ.
This is why it is so important to make Christ the center of your relationships, especially your marriage. Christ is the glue in that relationship. He is the one who ties you both together as a couple. If there is a significant relationship in your life where there is a disconnect, or distance, or discord resulting in disunity, then it’s time for a heart check. True unity comes from within; that is, hearts united with Christ.
2) Cultivate true unity by thinking like Christ. (Philippians 2:2;5)
In these verses, Paul gives us the silver bullet for experiencing unity and it’s result, joy. That is, having the same mind, being like-minded, one in spirit. And that oneness is having the same mindset as Christ Jesus or thinking like Jesus. We cultivate true unity by thinking like Christ and we…
3) Express true unity by acting like Christ. (Philippians 2:3-4)
Paul wanted the Believers in Philippi to understand that the basic cause of their division was one characteristic, selfishness. Selfishness is the core cause of disunity. Thinking that my needs or desires are more important than yours causes disunity.
Do you know what’s at the heart of selfishness? Pride is at the heart of selfishness. I must be filled with pride to think that anything I want, or expect, or need is more important than anyone else’s. And the sad truth is, there will be no joy in the life of a person, especially a Believer, who puts himself or herself above another.
So what is the key characteristic that must fuel our actions and our mindset if we are to think and act like Jesus? Humility must inspire our thoughts and actions to experience true unity. So how does a humble person think and act? I read once that a humble person is not one who thinks meanly, or poorly of himself; a humble person doesn’t think of himself at all.
Paul gives us two characteristics of a humble person, which were modeled perfectly by Jesus - service and sacrifice. For much more, please click here to listen to: Joy on the Journey - Part 4 - Thinking Like Jesus.