Keeping Christ’s Mental Attitude
THE uppermost thing in Jesus’ mind was the knowing and doing of his Father’s will that he might please him. From the very beginning his mental attitude was one of delighting himself in his Father, Jehovah God: “The LORD formed me as the first of his works, the beginning of his deeds of old. When he established the heavens I was there, when he traced the vault over the face of the deep. I was beside him as a ward of his; and daily was I filled with delight, as I sported before him all the time.”—Prov. 8:22, 27, 30, AT.
Jesus found delight in considering his Father’s Word and instructions: “Thou hast done great things, O LORD my God; wonderful are thy thoughts toward us; there is none to compare with thee. Were I to declare and tell them, they would be too many to enumerate.” “How precious are thy thoughts to me, O God! How great the sum of them! Were I to count them—they would outnumber the sands! Were I to come to the end of them, my life-span must be like thine!” Throughout his ministry he manifested the greatest familiarity with his Father’s Word, appealing to it to prove his positions and to refute the positions taken by his opponents.—Ps. 40:5; 139:17, 18, AT.
Regardless of what it meant in the way of suffering, Jesus’ mental attitude was one of delighting to do his Father’s will: “Then I said, ‘Look! I am come (in the roll of the book it is written about me) to do your will, O God.’” (Heb. 10:7, NW; Ps. 40:7, 8) That is why the apostle Paul counsels us: “Keep this mental attitude in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God. No, but he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men. More than that, when he found himself in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake.”—Phil. 2:5-8, NW.
That the doing of his Father’s will was uppermost at all times in the mind of Jesus is apparent from his own testimony: “I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative; just as I hear, I judge, and the judgment that I render is righteous, because I seek not my own will but the will of him that sent me.” “Because I have come down from heaven to do, not my will, but the will of him that sent me.” And again: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.”—John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38, NW.
WHAT WAS HIS JOY?
Concerning the example Jesus set for us we further read: “Look intently at the leader and perfecter of our faith, Jesus. For the joy that was set before him he endured a torture stake, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2, NW) What was this joy that was set before Jesus enabling him to endure all the shame and suffering? It was the joy of being able to make his Father’s heart glad by vindicating him. “My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me.” As the psalmist prophetically expressed Jesus’ sentiments: “I have proclaimed thy vindication in the great assembly. Lo, I do not close my lips; O LORD, thou knowest. Thy vindication I have not concealed within my heart; thy faithfulness and thy victory I have told.”—Prov. 27:11, AS; Ps. 40:9, 10, AT.
His Father’s name was in need of being honored and vindicated because of the reproach brought upon it by the covering cherub, who later became Satan the Devil. That one, instead of having a mind that delighted to do God’s will, had a mind filled with lawlessness; and, instead of pursuing the wise course of humility and obedience as Jesus did, corrupted his wisdom with pride and rebellion. He heaped reproach upon Jehovah’s name by his own wicked course and by influencing others to take a like course.—Job, chapters 1 and 2.
Christ Jesus, in striking contrast with that rebellious cherub, loved his heavenly Father and was jealous for the honor of his name. Fully appreciating the reason for his coming to earth he made use of every opportunity to bring honor to it by telling others how good and loving his Father is. Repeatedly we read of his preaching in the homes of the people, in their synagogues, in the temple, on the mountainside and at the seashore. Even while resting at a well he made good use of an opportunity to preach to a Samaritan woman of ill repute, with the result that a great witness was given to her city.—John 4:6-42.
Because the honoring and vindicating of his Father’s name was uppermost in his mind Jesus was filled with a burning zeal to expose those who were reproaching it. That is why he lashed out so strongly time and again against the scribes, Pharisees and doctors of the law, and why, both at the beginning and at the end of his earthly ministry, he in righteous indignation drove the money-changers out of the temple. Exclaimed he: “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a cave of robbers.”—Matt. 21:12, 13; 23:1-39; John 2:13-17, NW.
Knowing for a certainty what God’s will for him was, Jesus exercised his will to have an unbending determination to permit nothing to turn him aside. The subtle and flattering darts of the Devil bounced harmlessly off his shield of faith in his encounter with that one in the wilderness. Nor would he let the Jewish multitude seize him by force and make him king, for he knew that that was not God’s will for him and he was not ambitious to exalt himself. When Peter tried to dissuade him from taking the lowly course of suffering marked out for him by his heavenly Father, he rebuked him: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumblingblock to me, because you think, not God’s thoughts, but those of men.” Fully knowing what awaited him, when the due time came he “firmly set his face to travel to Jerusalem”.—Matt. 4:1-10; 16:23; Luke 9:51; John 6:15, NW.
Clearly identifying his purpose for coming to the earth, Jesus said to Pontius Pilate, when on trial before him: “For this purpose I have been born and for this purpose I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” And that that truth primarily concerned his Father’s name Jesus indicated in his prayer to his Father on the night of his betrayal: “I have glorified you on the earth, having finished the work you have given me to do. I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world.”—John 17:4, 6; 18:37, NW.
The mental attitude of Jesus is well summed up by the words of the prophet Isaiah (42:19, AT): “Who is blind but my servant, and deaf like my messenger whom I send? Who is as blind as my devoted one, and as deaf as the servant of the LORD?” Yes, Jesus was blind and deaf to both the blandishments and the reproaches and threats of Satan and his dupes. All he saw and heard was what his Father had for him to consider and to do.
IMITATING CHRIST JESUS
From the foregoing we can see that although Jesus was guileless, undefiled and entirely without sin, to have Christ’s mental attitude requires far more than merely avoiding the grosser sins. (John 8:46; Heb. 7:26) Also that the possession of a sanctimonious mien and the wearing of a religious garb is absolutely no indication that one has Christ’s mental attitude; in fact, it argues just the opposite.
Would we have the mind, the mental attitude of Christ? Then first of all we must delight ourselves in God’s Word, even as Jesus did. We must store in our minds a knowledge of Jehovah God and his purposes; information regarding his attributes of wisdom, justice, love and power; about his chief purpose to vindicate his name and sovereignty, which is the primary reason why he extends salvation to creatures, why he has tolerated the wicked, and why he will eventually destroy all the wicked; about the part Christ Jesus has played in providing our ransom and in vindicating his Father’s name and the part he will yet play therein; and about the presence of the kingdom for which we have been praying and the blessings it will soon bring in the new world of righteousness. Around these cardinal truths revolve all other Bible truths.—Ex. 9:16, AT; Ps. 83:1-18; Ezek. 36:20-22, AS; Matt. 6:10; 20:28; 24:1-44, NW.
However, storing these truths in our hearts or minds by means of study and faith in them is not enough. To have Christ’s mental attitude we must exercise our wills regarding them. We must determine to do something about these truths and then stick with that determination regardless of what men or demons may bring to bear against us. That means, first of all, dedicating ourselves to God’s service as Jesus did, going on record that we delight to do God’s will. (Ps. 40:8) And as it was for him, so for us God’s will primarily is that we preach the truth regarding his name and kingdom.—Matt. 24:14; 1 Pet. 2:9, NW.
To have Christ’s mental attitude we must be jealous for the good name of our heavenly Father; and so we must expose the false teachings that bring reproach upon him, at the same time being careful not to do anything ourselves that will cause reproach to come upon Jehovah’s name. We may never be ashamed to confess Jehovah’s name before men nor may we soft-pedal the truth to avoid the wrath of men. Like him we must be blind and deaf both to the blandishments the world offers to lure us away from our determination and to the threats and reproaches it makes in an effort to discourage us. Our motive at all times must be, not to gain the approval of men, but the approval of God.
And in our relations with fellow Christians we must heed the counsel of Paul: “If, then, there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any sharing of spirit, if any tender affections and compassions, make my joy full in that you are of the same mind and have the same love, being joined together in soul, holding the one thought in mind, doing nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with lowliness of mind considering that the others are superior to you, keeping an eye, not in personal interest upon just your own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others. Keep this mental attitude in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”—Phil. 2:1-5, NW.