The very idea that disciples of the Nazarene ought to strive with all their energy to think like Christ is pause for anxiety. Most feel they fall so far short of the perfect mind of Christ as to be discouraged by any encouragement to think as he did. (Romans 7:13-24) However, more than once that is exactly what the Bible directs: Think Just As Christ Thought.
For example, Paul makes a loving appeal to the Philippian congregation to keep the mind of Christ: "Let this thinking [Greek = phroneite = minding] be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 2:5 UBS Interlinear; BECK: Think just as Christ Jesus thought) To the Corinthians, Paul wrote: "We have the mind [Greek = noun] of Christ. ... Become imitators of me as I also am of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:16; 11:1 UBS Interlinear) Indeed, when Paul felt he did not speak after Christís example he said so. (2 Corinthians 11:17)
Peter also points to Christ as a role-model: "Christ ... left you an example [model] so that you might follow closely in his footsteps." (1 Peter 2:21; Revelation 14:4) Peter uses the Greek word hypo-grammon which means under + writing. It originally carried the idea of a student writing underneath the penmanship of the teacher just as children still do in primary school. In this effort, students seek to copy as closely as possible the cursive strokes of the teacher. Just so, a disciple of the Nazarene was to follow the footsteps of the Master as closely as possible. (Revelation 14:4; Matthew 16:24) In order to do this such a follower of Christ must learn to think even as he did.
Think Just As Christ Thought? How would we summarize Christís model? What words would best describe his character? What was his thinking?
The Son of God was driven by one motivation: the approval of his Father. The Nazarene told his disciples: "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me. ... I always do the things pleasing to my Father." (John 4:34; 8:29)
Paul writes about this character when he encouraged the Philippians to "keep the mind of Christ." Philippians 2:5-7 outlines the thinking of Christ which we should learn to imitate: "Have the same attitude that Christ had. ... He emptied himself and consented to take on the nature of a slave. ... He humbled himself and became obedient unto death." (Modern Versions) The phrase "same attitude" is rendered variously: WEY: same disposition; MOF: same spirit; BECK: think just as Christ Jesus thought. Several characteristics are prominent here: Jesus denied his own personal interests; he followed a humble course; and, he was obedient to that kind of death foretold by the prophet -- a sacrificial one which included suffering. (Isaiah chapter 53)
Jesus was the perfect role model for those persons who will inherit the promises of God. Paul concludes what kind of attitude all creatures will ultimately have to display in 1 Corinthians 15:28, " ... that God may be everything to everyone." (Moffatt) To Jesus God was "everything." The Father was the single focus of Christís life. This involved that quality of faith. At the end of his life, in one of his final prayers, he said to his Father: "I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do." (John 17:4 RSV) So, if we examine the life of Christ as recorded by the Gospels we will see what Godís will for him was and how he carried that out. This mind-set of Jesus, however, involved another important characteristic.
The motivating factor in the coming of Christ in the person of Jesus the Nazarene was love for mankind. In Philippians, before Paul pointed to the example of Christ, he had made this appeal to that congregation: "So by the stimulus of Christ, by every incentive of love, by all your affectionate tenderness, make my best hopes for you come true by your mutual identity of purpose, united in mutual love, with harmony of feeling giving your minds to one and the same object: stop acting from motives of selfish strife or petty ambition, but with low thoughts of self, let each one of you regard one another as more important than himself. Stop looking after your own interests but practice looking out for the interests of others." (Philippians 2:1-4 Modern Versions; compare 1 Corinthians 10:24)
Paul then goes on to point to the example of Jesus Christ in these matters: thinking of others instead of self. He paints the image of the celestial being who became Jesus Christ the Nazarene as someone who existed in a divine form (likely his position as the divine Word -- John 1:1). When the time and opportunity came to fulfillment, the Son did not look after his own interests as second in relation to God. When thinking of this lofty position in the heavenly realms as Godís Spokesman -- and as the creative agency whose very "word upholds all things" -- the Son did not grab to his breast this privilege as if he were reluctant to give it up in order to travel to earth in expedite Godís will. (Hebrews 11:3; Proverbs 8:22-30)
That fondness was described of personified Wisdom in Proverbs 8:31: "I was with (Yahweh) as a confidant, a source of delight every day, rejoicing in His inhabited world, finding delight with mankind." (JPS; compare NWT, "I was fond of (mankind).") After all, the Son had been present and heard with rejoicing the words: "Let us make mankind in our image." (Genesis 1:26; Job 38:7) From the very start, the Son of God agreed with the creation of humans and was "fond" of mankind in general. No wonder when the time came for Godís "work" it required such a Son to sacrifice his celestial existence with all of its unimaginable glory. This Son did not hesitate with any self-centered or ego-centric thoughts. He jumped at the opportunity to do Godís will! It truly was just like "food" to him -- no matter what was required.
This was not a case of moving from the celestial to the terrestrial and then be a god-king here. No! He had to empty himself of all his rights and privileges -- and former experiences with God -- and be reduced to something "less than angels." (Hebrews 2:7) More, he would have to suffer as a human a death which for all observable purposes was a rejection by God as well as having all the appearances of being an apostate and criminal. No creature of God ever moved so far and so low in order to help others than the Son of God.
To what could we compare such a loving interest in others -- to his own injury and pain? What great religious leader of any contemporary sect or organization would be willing to sacrifice his office with all its perks -- leaving the comfort, for example, of a well-appointed hotel room with a Manhattan view (fully equipped with an ample liquor cabinet) and follow, say, in the footsteps of Mother Teresa in the AIDS-ridden slums of Calcutta? Or, to loose himself (or, herself) in the malaria ridden jungles of Africa with missionary doctor? Also, beyond this, to receive no Nobel laureate applauds of peers, but to be rejected as a leprous apostate and then die a slow and agonizing death, abandoned by dearest friends? Surely, the prophet foretold the attitude of the Jews regarding Messiah, "He was despised, shunned by (Jewish) men, a man of suffering, familiar with disease. ... He was despised, we (Jews) held him of no account." (Isaiah 53:3 JPS) Despite all of this no man in history has personified love more than Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
The night before his death Jesus expressed his love for his disciples, whom he now calls "friends." He told them, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down oneís life for oneís friends." (John 15:12, 13 RSV) Surely, not just his death, but his entire sacrificial life was an example of this great love. Jesus was a loving person characterized by thinking of others, and this in obedience to his Fatherís will.
The beloved apostle John was present that evening and the words of the Nazarene here are echoed by this disciple in his general letter. John writes: "Whoever does not love abides in death. ... We know love by this, that hr laid down his life for us --- and we ought to lay down our lives for one another." (1 John 3:14-16 RSV) John explains how this love is manifest when he continues: "How does Godís love abide in anyone who has the worldís goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?" (1 John 3:17 RSV) Certainly, John could think of his own Lord Jesus who had left the celestial realms and came to a lowly place on earth to teach mankind about love.
Indeed, this subject of love is to fill his ministry -- by teachings and example. A reading of the Sermon on the Mount will reveal how this heaven-sent theme. (See the publication Nazarene Mountain Teachings, a verse by verse commentary on Matthew chapters 5-7.)
So, two things motivated Jesus and caused his thinking to focus on -- not himself -- but, a) obedience to God; and, b) love of others. How can we learn to think this way? Why do we have so much trouble thinking of others before ourselves?
Why do so many "Christians" -- those claiming to be disciples of Christ -- demonstrate exactly the opposite of what we have considered above? Where is this Christ-thinking among "Christians"? Why are we not more loving in our thinking? There are several factors working against us.
When God said "let us make mankind in our image" He gave each individual something He possessed. -- individuality with a cosmic-center. (Genesis 1:26) In other words, each "image" of God has this feeling of being the center. We look out through our eyes -- as well as hearing, smelling, and feeling -- a world in which we seem to be the center. As if the entire universe revolves around us as individuals. This is a lovely thought viewed from one perspective. We are alone with our thoughts. No one can "read" or know them -- save God who made us -- and so we have a world view where it appears to us, indeed, that all things are intended for "me" and the ego takes on real meaning. (1 Corinthians 2:11)
Indeed, we were "hard-wired" by our Creator to share His own view -- as though we could see through Godís eyes to some extent and share His absolute sense of individuality. In this regard, we were also "hard-wired" to live forever as humans on an earth cultivated into a global paradise. In one sense we enjoy an inner conviction of our own immortality. (Ecclesiastes 3:11 ASV)
The idea we could die is completely alien to us and this is demonstrated first by most personsí disinterest in discussing their mortality; and, next, in the extreme efforts many will go to in order to preserve their lives and those of others. (Psalm 49:7-9) This natural instinct of an immortality is demonstrated in the burial practices of virtually every culture who have even inhabited this earth. Surely, any child is unaware of their mortality until it is learned by experience or education. For many this comes as a shock. Many refuse to discuss the subject and ignore the inevitable completely. Thus, proving the creative "hard-wiring" of this carbon life formís instinctive knowledge of everlasting biogenesis as placed in the bosom of every cosmic-center person. (Genesis 3:22) Of course, there is a problem.
Those familiar with the Bible are aware of what went wrong in the Garden of Eden -- rebellion (the exact opposite of the Lord Jesus) against the Creator and Sovereign of the Universe. (See Genesis chapter 2 and 3) It is called "sin" by the Scriptures -- a failure to obey Godís law and to fall short of perfect obedience to the Almighty. (Compare Romans chapter 5)
Because our original parents failed by deliberate disobedience, fostered by personal greed, it was though God removed a single important factor from mankindís genetic makeup and permitted a mutant influence to the original DNA of Adam and Eve -- sin and death. (Job 14:1-4; Ecclesiastes 7:29) The most far-reaching result was a disastrous impact on how we think -- it perverted our cosmic-centering and over-amplified it so that we all began to take ourselves too seriously -- as gods ourselves. (Genesis 3:5, 22) No one knows more, no one has more power, no one is a better judge than we are. Yet, there is another factor amplifying our arrogance and egotism.
With thousands of years behind us, generation after generation -- each passing down this defect and that attitude -- we find ourselves surrounded by relatives, friends, and others who influence our own selfishness. It is no secret the 1980s were nicknamed the "Me Generation" which was also, at the same time, the "Pepsi Generation." This self-centeredness has become more and more evident as media observers publish their reports on the human condition. Soon people think, "I am worth it."
The word "self-esteem" has become part of the psycho-babble of this generation. The word has taken on a positive aspect and every kind of emotional illness has been blamed on a lack of "self-esteem" when "self-respect" is really meant. It is a subtle shift. Meanwhile the dictionary gives its second meaning: "undue pride in oneself." Two pages are taken up in the dictionary with hyphenated words beginning with "self" --- self-conceit, self-devotion, self-importance, self-indulgence, self-interest, self-opinionated, self-seeker, self-willed, etc. A generation of self-centered, egotistical men and women is the result with ruined relationships, families, communities, and countries.
More and more the cosmic-centeredness becomes over-inflated as each person becomes a personal island which must be defended at all costs -- the ego gone amuck. It has become nearly impossible for the average person to naturally think of others first and themselves second. None seem to think as Christ: What can I do for others? How may I seek the highest good of my neighbor? What else influences this world selfishness?
We have demonic enemies who have an obsessive disease to become like God. (2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 5:19; Revelation 12:9) Our generation is as though satanic forces have been released from an evil abyss with but one goal -- influence us to become more and more self-centered, the very opposite of Christ-thinking. It is the conviction of many Bible believers that the "god of this world" breathes a foul, death-dealing influencia among earthís inhabitants -- including professed Christians -- which turns a 90-pound woman surrounded by two tons of steel into a demon on the freeways and auto-bahns of the world. Something that turns a fundamentally good child -- from his motherís perspective -- into a "drive-by" shooter or suicide bomber. A son loved by a father into a sniper above a school-yard.
Our generation is well described like others before it: "There is a generation that calls down evil even upon its father and that does not bless even its mother. There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes but that has not been washed from its own excrement. There is a generation whose eyes have become O how lofty! and whose beaming eyes are lifted up. There is a generation whose teeth are swords and whose jawbones are slaughtering knives, to eat up the afflicted ones off the earth and the poor ones from among mankind." (Proverbs 30:11-14 NWT)
Many believe this other-worldly influence -- as if aliens from another universe -- has brought the entire planet to a low level of self-thinking so that it is rare to find a Mother Teresa who must be awarded a Nobel prize for her Christianity. Just as Satan tempted Christ with greed and self-doubt so he is engaged in a "war" with Christian saints to destroy their faith and spirituality by corrosive materialistic selfishness. (Matthew 4:1-11; 2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:10-18)
Jesus taught a parable which illustrate how the Devil was at work against the Nazareneís disciples. Mark 4:14-20 records his words: "The Sower plants the Message. ... As soon as they have heard (the Message) Satan comes and takes away the Word that was planted in them." Satan uses fear in an environment of oppression and persecution. He also seduces by riches as well as its associated anxieties. Mark 4:18, 19 continue the parable: "These are the ones who hear the Message, but the anxieties of the period, and the deceiving pleasures of being rich, as well as greed for material things, work their way in and choke the Message and it becomes unproductive."
Though this is the work of the Devil, there is a large degree of selfish greed on the part of those deceived. They have thought more of themselves and their own comforts and pleasures rather than the needs of others. The Nazarene gives a timely parable showing the extent of this ego-centricity in the illustration of the self-centered farmer. This is found in Luke 12:16-21 and the teaching is prompted by a member of the audience who insisted Jesus settle a matter regarding his inheritance. Jesus caution the whole crowd: "Take care! You must be on your guard against every form of greed for even when a person has more than enough, his wealth does not give him life." (Luke 12:15 GDSP, NEB)
With that in mind, examine the parable. Note the farmer is already well off and prosperous but this does not satisfy him. He plans to expand his agri-business for his own satisfaction. Note how often in this parable the farmer uses the personal pronoun a dozen times. He is thinking only of himself. No where in the parable does the farmer have any plans to care for the needy or share his riches with the poor. Before the farmer can realize his dreams, before he can even begin his selfish expansions, he dies!
Jesus concludes the parable with the moral: "Thus the one saving for himself but not being rich regarding God." (Luke 12:21) How does on become "rich regarding God"? What is it God wants from us in order to become rich from His standpoint? It is interesting how often the Nazarene uses the word "credit" or "reward" when it comes to giving and charitably sharing with others. (Matthew 5:46; 6:1, 2; 10:41, 42; Luke 6:32-35)
This idea of becoming rich in God-things by thinking of others rather than self was not new with the Nazarene. The principle was well established in the Law of Moses and repeated in the Proverbs of Solomon. Moses commands: "In case some one of your brothers becomes poor among you in one of your cities, in your land that Jehovah your God is giving you, you must not harden your heart or be closefisted toward your poor brother. For you should generously open your hand to him and by all means lend him on pledge as much as he needs, which he is in want of. Watch out for yourself for fear a base word should come to be in your heart, saying, 'The seventh year, the year of the release, has come close,' and your eye should indeed become ungenerous toward your poor brother, and you should give him nothing, and he has to call out to Jehovah against you, and it has become a sin on your part. You should by all means give to him, and your heart should not be stingy in your giving to him, because on this account Jehovah your God will bless you in every deed of yours and in every undertaking of yours. For someone poor will never cease to be in the midst of the land. That is why I am commanding you, saying, 'You should generously open up your hand to your afflicted and poor brother in your land.'" (Deuteronomy 15:7-11 NWT)
The Proverbs echo the Law: "He that is defrauding the lowly one has reproached his Maker, but the one showing favor to the poor one is glorifying Him." (Proverbs 14:31) "He that is holding the one of little means in derision has reproached his Maker." (Proverbs 17:5) "He that is showing favor to the lowly one is lending to Jehovah, and his treatment He will repay to him." (Proverbs 19:7 NWT)
In his own historical period king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon thought too highly of himself and showed himself to be an egomaniac. Daniel 4:27 records: "While strolling on the roof of the royal palace in Babylon, the king was saying, Ď Great Babylon! Was it not built by me as a royal residence, b y the force of my might and for the majesty of my glory?í" Instantly what was foretold earlier in the same chapter befell him from Heaven.
Isaiah 14:13, 14 reports on a satanic king whoís actions were like a fallen angel, Lucifer: "You used to think to yourself: ĎI shall scale the heavens; higher than the stars of God I shall set me throne. I shall sit on the Mount of Assembly far away to the north. I shall climb high above the clouds, I shall rival the Most High.í" (NJB)
Paul, in listing the qualifications of elders and deacons, includes the Devil in his warning regarding pride: " ... not a newly converted man, for fear that he might get puffed up [with pride] and fall into the judgment passed upon the Devil." (1 Timothy 3:6 NWT) Paul suggests pride -- exaggerated self-esteem -- was the reason the Devil came into judgment by God.
Something not necessarily wrong in itself, but which leaves God out of the equation, can lead to an excessive belief in oneís own merits. James 4:13-17 reads in part: "Come now, you who boast, ĎToday or tomorrow we will go into this city and spend a year there engaging in business and making profits. ... Rather you should say, ĎIf the Lord wills we will do this or that.í But now you boast in your self-assumptions. Such boasting is wicked. Therefore, if one knows what is right but fails to do it -- it is a sin to him."
The Book of Proverbs makes several warnings about pride and haughtiness. God states: "I hate pride and arrogance." (Proverbs 8:13) What materialistic property gained by such godless egotism will prove no security at all: "The Lord will destroy the house of the proud." (Proverbs 15:25) The better choice is given in Proverbs 16:18, 19: "Pride comes before disaster, and arrogance before a fall! Better sit humbly with those in need than divide spoil with the proud." (NEB) Echoing the words of James above, Proverbs 27:1 counsels: "Do not flatter yourself about tomorrow." (YLT)
Over and over in the Gospels we find examples of this Christ-thinking. We see Jesus highly conscious of the needs of others; and most often their physical well-being but also in their standing with God. The Nazarene shows his interest in social outcasts like lepers and occupying Roman army officers, as well as the sickness of a woman. (Matthew 8:1-17) He is accused of associating with sinners and tax-collectors. (Matthew 9:9-13) An "unclean" woman is healed by a touch. (Matthew 9:19-22) Even a demonize person, whose behavior must have been something highly objectionable by Jewish society, does not escape the loving interest of Jesus. (Matthew 9:32-34)
Jesus even shows his interest in a non-Jewish woman to whom he admits he was not sent. Despite doing what he had said was "wrong" he heals this woman. (Matthew 15:21-28) The Nazarene is keenly aware -- or, interested -- in the hunger of a crowd of thousands, and then feeds them all by a miracle. (Matthew 15:32-39) His own disciples are shocked to find him teaching a woman in private, let alone a person considered a demonized apostate by the Jews in general. (John 4:7-30; 8:48)
When his religious opponents tried to trap Jesus in his speech they asked a loaded question: what is the greatest commandment? The Nazareneís answer was two-fold: a) to love God with all oneís entire heart, soul, strength and mind; and, b) to love oneís neighbor as your own self. (Luke 10:25-28) However, the trick question was propounded, "Who is my Ďneighborí?" Jesus then went on to give the famous parable of the Good Samaritan. (Luke 10:29-37) Today many countries have what is called or amounts to "Good Samaritan Law."
In this parable we see what Christ-thinking is: unselfish interest in anotherís welfare manifest by considerable charity. However, Jesus amplifies the whole matter by including the illustration of two cultural-religious enemies who had demonstrated a long history of mutual hatred. (Ezra 4:1, 2) The Jews considered the Samaritans demonized apostates and had no dealings with them. (John 4:9; 8:48) What must, therefore, have been to their surprise, the unloving in the parable were Jews -- and temple religionists at that -- and the loving one was a Samaritan! The Samaritan demonstrates Christ-thinking: an interest in others rejected by society with any hidden agenda or greedy motivations. The Samaritan -- "moved with pity" -- stops what his own journey must have been, attends to the wounds of the injured Jew, takes him to an inn, and gives the inn-keeper what amounts to two days wages. Further, the loving Samaritan assures the inn-keeper that he will cover any additional expenses upon his return.
This parable is as timely today as it was two thousand years ago. Today many religionists are quite willing to "love" those members of their own organization or church, but have all kinds of excuses for avoiding charitable kindness to modern "Samaritans" -- demonized religious apostates. These forget that the Nazarene taught there was no "credit" in "loving those who love you." (Matthew 5:46-48) No such "love" -- which may have its hidden agendas -- would perk Godís own interest in such people. However, God does note in His book of accounts those charitable acts toward the "unrighteous" as well as the "wicked and unthankful." (Matthew 5:45; Luke 6:35)
How can each disciple of the Nazarene learn to think of others first and only after to think of self? Paul gives one of the finest summaries when he lists those characteristics of the transformed mind. In Romans 12:2 Paul makes this appeal: "Do not conform to this present time period. Rather, metamorphose by the renewing of your mind." He then goes on to list those attributes of the renewed mind: Love unhypocritically. ... Stick to the good. In brotherly love by tenderly affectionate to one another. Take the lead in showing respect. ... Share with the saints in their need. Pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute. Do not curse them. Rejoice with the joyful. Weep with those crying. Think of others as you would yourselves. Do not think too highly of yourself but be willing to associate with the lowly. Do not be conceited. Never return evil with evil. With others watching, think well of others first. As far as possible be peaceable with everyone. Do not avenge yourselves, beloved. Rather, yield to wrath. ... Do not let the bad conquer you but rather conquer the bad by your good." (Romans 12:9-21)
A new disciple, just embarking on the Christine footpath, may find the above daunting. This "metamorphosis" of the renewed mind takes time and continues throughout the Christian life. However, after a person has been following the Nazarene for some years, these characteristics ought to become more and more pronounced. Others who observe these progressive changes in your life and attitude ought to discern how much your thinking has become more and more Christ-like. In time, given strong discipline on your part, the Christ-thinking will become natural. Your first and initial reactions to any given situation will always be: How can I love this person? What do I need to do to seek their highest good?
One of the most important factors in this new Christ-thinking is to allow a pause -- enough time for you to make the simple decision to seek the highest good of your fellow. Usually quick and rash thoughts, speech, and actions are self-serving, not self-less. Time and your determination to walk after Christ will help you to struggle to conquer those tendencies to see and judge every circumstance as to how it benefits you. One must training the mind to think less of ME and more of YOU.
Consider a few examples where just the single quality of patience will manifest Christ-thinking. You are in a line (or queue) and the clerk is having difficulty and is slow, or the customer is taking an unusual amount of time. Others in the queue become irritable and unsettled. How do you feel or react? Do you say something unkind and whisper frustrations under your breath? Why not relax and be patient? An ego-centric person who believes the whole world revolves around him is convinced the whole process is there just for him and no one else is important.
On the highway (freeway, parkway) some one merges dangerously, cutting off others to get into the flow of traffic. Another driver needs to merge but no one will pause to allow this. How do you respond? Are you honking your horn and pounding the steering wheel, perhaps uttering coarse suggestions your mother would disapprove?
Someone among your peers is exalted with special praise and privileges. How do you react? Do you share their joy and honor? Or, do you find yourself speaking negatively about your associate? Picture yourself in an orchestra about ready to support a famous opera singer. You play the piccolo and have only a few prominent bars. The spot lights are focused on this soloist. Do you resent the spotlight being on this individual? Or, do you realize you are part of an entire orchestra which is necessary to provide the symphonic melodies in harmony with the singer? Finding our place in the fulfillment of Godís will is often one of the most difficult things for all of us to appreciate.
One of the most graphic manifestations of self-absorption or ego-centricity is the use of the tongue. Consider: three people are talking and one of them leaves. Do you find yourself saying something negative about the person in their absence? Why? Is it because you wish to exalt yourself over another human being? Or, a friend comes to you with a bit of gossip (news-mongering) which tends to place another in a poor light? How do you respond to this? Do you make excuses for the subject of the gossip if you believe what has been said to be true, though damaging? Can you find it in yourself to treat others as you would be treated?
Slander -- spreading an untruth which is derogatory to anotherís reputation -- is highly condemned in the Bible. Indeed, Jesus says everyone of else will be judged by how we spoke about others. You are with a group of people and someone praises another who is absent. Do you find yourself saying something to undermine this praise -- perhaps something untrue or exaggerated? Why? Is it because you cannot stand seeing the spotlight taken off yourself? Do you go so far as to spread a rumor -- or start one -- which down-grades a person and damages their reputation? Do you wish to be spoken of in this manner? Why do it to others? If one persists in this kind of slander the Golden Rule has been thrown to the ground and trampled on. One is in severe danger of being parted from Christ.
There is a weighty thought that may result in thinking less of oneself and more of others. No doubt it was something Christ thought of daily: his ultimate judgment before the God of the universe. When we realize there is to be only one trip through this journey called life and that this experience is to be judged by the Almighty -- it is a sobering thought. (Hebrews 9:27) Additionally, if we realize this judgment will be largely based on how we treated others, there ought to be a strong impetus to begin each day with that thought in mind: How can I treat others today the way I would be treated? It might be the last entry into that record the Judge of all the earth is keeping on your personal life. (Matthew 12:36, 37; Romans 2:16; Matthew 25:31-46)
The problem of our self-view might be reflected in what was an ongoing point of dissension among Jesusí own apostles: who was the greatest among them? (Luke 9:46-48; 22:24-27; compare Matthew 18:1-4; 23:11) Consider the following submission about Gaining Victory over Self.
When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, or to record your own good works, or itch after commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown...That is VICTORY OVER SELF!
When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart or even defend yourself, but take it all in patient loving silence...That is VICTORY OVER SELF!
When you are content with any food, any offering, any raiment, any climate, any society, any solitude, any interruption by the will of God....That is VICTORY OVER SELF!
When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any unpunctuality, or any annoyance; when you can stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility...and endure it as Jesus endured it...That is VICTORY OVER SELF!
When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself, and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart...That is VICTORY OVER SELF!
When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met, and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances...That is VICTORY OVER SELF!
When you are forgotten, or neglected, or purposely set at naught, and you don't sting and hurt with the insult, or the oversight, but your heart is happy, being counted worthy to suffer for Christ...That is VICTORY OVER SELF! (Author Unknown)
Just as so many people post notes to themselves, or place magnetic "inspirations" on the refrigerator door, to oneís everlasting good it would be wise to memorize: "Seek not your own good, but that of others." (1 Corinthians 10:24) And, then, strive your best to do this each and every day: Think Just As Christ Thought!
Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller
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