Do You Have the Mind of Christ?
“Now may the God who supplies endurance and comfort grant you to have among yourselves the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had.”—ROMANS 15:5.
1. If a person claims to be a Christian, what questions require an answer?
MORE than a billion people around the world are said to be Christian. What does this imply? That, nominally at least, they believe in Jesus Christ and claim to be his followers, or disciples. (Matthew 10:24, 25) But what is needed in order to follow Christ’s example, or life pattern? Obviously, you have to know him. Are you one who really knows Jesus of Nazareth? Do you have a clear idea of what kind of person he was while here on earth? Or how he reacted to people in different circumstances? Do you have “the mind of Christ”?—1 Corinthians 2:16; Ephesians 4:13.
2, 3. How can we get to know the mind of Christ?
2 How may we get to know someone who lived almost two thousand years ago and whose public life spanned only some three and a half years? In Jesus’ case there are four reliable biographies that help to build up a mental picture of the kind of person he was. By a careful reading of those four Gospel accounts, we can also perceive the pattern of thinking that motivated his actions. Hence, to be a true Christian rather than a nominal one, what is necessary? Jesus expressed it this way: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—John 17:3; 2 Peter 3:18.
3 Thus, every Christian should have a deep knowledge and understanding of the Father, Jehovah, and of the life and teachings of the Son, Christ Jesus. It is not enough to call oneself a Christian witness of Jehovah. To have the mind of Christ, we must regularly fill our minds with understanding of Jesus’ life and example. That means we need a regular and genuine study of the Scriptures along with Bible study aids that help to clarify meaning and context. It also calls for a proper frame of mind so that we can understand and accept Christ’s role in God’s purposes.—John 5:39-47; Matthew 24:45-47.
A Man of Feelings
4. What kind of man was Jesus?
4 Jesus, a healthy active man, performed his ministry while in his early 30’s. (Luke 3:23) But what kind of man was he? Was he impersonal and distant? On the contrary, being a Middle Eastern Jew, he was expressive. He was not inhibited and introverted. He publicly manifested a wide range of human emotions ranging from sadness and compassion to righteous indignation and anger.—Mark 6:34; Matthew 23:13-36.
5. How did Jesus react on hearing of the death of Lazarus?
5 For example, how did Jesus react when he found Martha and Mary weeping over the loss of their brother Lazarus? John’s account tells us: “He was deeply and visibly moved, and distressed in spirit,” and he “burst into tears.” (John 11:33-36, The New Testament, by William Barclay) He shared his feelings with these close friends. He was not ashamed to weep with them. Although he was “the Son of God,” he revealed very human emotions. (John 1:34) How touching that must have been to Martha and Mary!—Compare Luke 19:41-44.
6. Why was Jesus not unmanly because he wept?
6 Some today, however, might draw the conclusion that Jesus was a weakling because he wept publicly with those women. In fact, Catholic author Hilaire Belloc called Jesus a “milksop.” Is that true? Was Jesus the unmanly type often depicted in Christendom’s works of art? No, tears are not necessarily a sign of weakness. As one medical journal expressed it: “The prohibition of the appropriate expression of tender emotion is both illogical and harmful . . . Expression of tender emotion, particularly crying, is one attribute that is uniquely human.”—Compare 2 Samuel 13:36-38; John 11:35.
7. In what ways can Jesus’ humane example help us today?
7 Jesus’ reactions to suffering were truly human and humane. They help us to identify with him and his mind. We are not following some impersonal mythological figure but rather the perfect human example sent from God, “the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16; John 3:16, 17; 6:68, 69) What a model for all Christians today, especially Christian elders, who must often give comfort and show empathy in times of loss and stress! Yes, having the mind and the heart of Christ on such occasions can make a great difference.—1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8.
A Bold Man of Action
8. How did Jesus display courage and bold action?
8 Jesus also showed himself to be a man of courageous convictions and dynamic action. For example, on two occasions he vigorously drove the animal dealers and money changers out of the temple. (Mark 11:15-17; John 2:13-17) He also did not balk at publicly exposing the hypocrisy of the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees. In his bold denunciation, he warned: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you resemble whitewashed graves, which outwardly indeed appear beautiful but inside are full of dead men’s bones and of every sort of uncleanness.” Certainly, there was no weakness here!—Matthew 23:27, 28; Luke 13:14-17.
9, 10. (a) Why did Jesus not sin by showing indignation? (b) How should Christ’s example affect a Christian elder?
9 Was Jesus’ indignation an evidence of lack of self-control? Peter, a close companion of Jesus during his ministry, states: “He committed no sin.” (1 Peter 2:22) The apostle Paul wrote: “For we have as high priest, not one who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tested in all respects like ourselves, but without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) There is a difference between controlled righteous indignation and uncontrolled anger.—Compare Proverbs 14:17; Ephesians 4:26.
10 Therefore, while a Christian elder, for example, would not be “prone to wrath,” he should certainly have the moral strength to be able “to reprove those who contradict,” even “with severity” if necessary. He must be qualified to ‘reprove, reprimand, and exhort.’ (Titus 1:7-13; 2 Timothy 4:1, 2) Certain situations might also provoke his righteous indignation, especially if he sees a blatant threat to the congregation’s unity, spirituality, or moral cleanness. As Paul said, at times “it is necessary to shut the mouths” of “profitless talkers . . . and deceivers of the mind” who ‘subvert entire households by teaching things they ought not for the sake of dishonest gain.’ In such cases, having the mind of Christ will help elders to be bold, balanced, and decisive.—See 1 Corinthians 5:1-5; Revelation 2:20-23; 3:19.
11. What questions have a bearing on how we should imitate Christ?
11 In the course of his travels through Galilee, Samaria, and Judea, Jesus came into contact with all kinds of people—men, women, children, the sick, and those who viewed him as their sworn enemy. How did he deal with them? Was he pompous and aloof, or approachable? Could he identify with people’s problems and temptations? Was he unforgiving or merciful? The answers to these questions have a bearing on how we should imitate Christ in our own daily actions and reactions.—Romans 15:5; Philippians 2:5.
How Did Jesus React to Children?
12. How did the disciples and Jesus react to children on one occasion?
12 We find a very beautiful account of how Jesus responded to children at Mark chapter 10, verses 13-16. It reads: “Now people began bringing him young children for him to touch these; but the disciples reprimanded them.” Why the disciples acted this way the account does not say. It was the year 33 C.E., and Jesus was on his way from Galilee through Perea to what would be his final public ministry in and around Jerusalem. Perhaps they thought that Jesus was too important or too busy to be concerned with children at that point. Yet, did he himself indicate that he was too busy? “At seeing this Jesus was indignant and said to them [the disciples]: ‘Let the young children come to me; do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to suchlike ones. . . . And he took the children into his arms and began blessing them, laying his hands upon them.”
13. How did people react to Jesus?
13 Now what else does that teach us about the mind of Christ? It illustrates his firmness with his erring disciples and his humane attitude toward lesser ones. He understood what motivated the parents to bring their children to him. They wanted him to touch and bless their children. And what does that tell us about Jesus? That people were not afraid of him or in awe of him. He had the common touch, and people wanted to be with him. Even children were at ease in his presence—and he was at ease in the presence of children. Are people, including children, comfortable in your presence?—Mark 1:40-42; Matthew 20:29-34.
14. As regards being approachable, who especially should follow Jesus’ example?
14 Jesus showed warm affection and kindness. (Mark 9:36, 37) He was accessible and approachable. As a follower of Christ, do you have his mind in that respect? Christian overseers in the districts, circuits, congregations, and Watch Tower Society branch offices around the world do well to ask themselves: Am I dogmatic and unbending? Or do I make others, even children, feel at ease with me? Am I truly approachable?—Proverbs 12:18; Ecclesiastes 7:8.
Jesus’ Dealings With Women
15, 16. How was Jesus different from other Jews in his dealings with women?
15 As elders, servants, and brothers in the Christian congregation, do we have the mind of Christ when dealing with our Christian sisters and with women in general? How did Christ, a bachelor, react under differing circumstances as he came into contact with the women of his day?
16 In that male-dominated Jewish society, Jesus was an unusual teacher in that he was willing to talk to women, even non-Jewish women. (John 4:7-30) For example, when he was visiting a home in the Gentile territory of Tyre and Sidon, a Grecian woman asked him to help her demon-possessed daughter. Normally, an orthodox Jew would have had no dealings with her. But Jesus listened and tested her faith, saying: “First let the [Jewish] children be satisfied, for it is not right to take the bread of the children and throw it to the little [Gentile] dogs.” Was Jesus’ tone such that it ended the matter? Did he dogmatically stifle further discussion? Evidently not, for the woman tactfully replied: “Yes, sir, and yet the little dogs underneath the table eat of the crumbs of the little children.” Jesus was impressed, and he cured her daughter.—Mark 7:24-30.
17. What can we learn from the way Jesus dealt with a certain woman who was a sinner?
17 Jesus kept an open mind with women and did not judge by outward appearances. (Matthew 22:16) On another occasion, when eating in the house of a Pharisee, he allowed a known sinner, possibly a prostitute, to wash his feet and then to anoint them with oil. By her actions she indicated a repentant attitude toward her sinful course. (Luke 7:36-50) Jesus did not write her off and dismiss her with a blanket judgment because she was immoral. (See also John 4:7-30.) He forgave her “because she loved much.” What does that indicate about the mind of Christ? He was compassionate and understanding toward the woman. Can we not act likewise in the congregation and in our ministry?—Luke 19:1-10; Romans 14:10-13; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
Jesus’ Dealings With His Disciples
18. (a) How do some react to those working under them? (b) How did Jesus treat his disciples and others? (Mark 6:54-56)
18 At times people in authority feel threatened by their subordinates. They stifle what they subconsciously sense to be competition. Pride comes to the fore. They are quick to criticize and slow to commend those who work under them. Their expressions of disdain fail to respect the personal dignity of others. But what about Jesus—how did he treat those under him, his disciples? Were they made to feel inferior, incompetent, or stupid? Or, rather, did they feel at ease working along with Jesus?—Compare Matthew 11:28-30; 25:14-23.
19. What does John 13:1-17 teach us about Jesus?
19 In this respect, one of the outstanding lessons that Jesus taught his disciples is found in John chapter 13. We suggest that you read Joh 13 verses 1 to 17. In those days the roads were dusty, and it was the custom to have a servant wash the visitors’ feet. Jesus took that menial task upon himself. What is the quality that he highlighted by washing his disciples’ feet? He gave them a practical lesson in humility. What do we learn here about the mind of Christ? Jesus’ words give the answer: “A slave is not greater than his master, nor is one that is sent forth greater than the one that sent him. If you know these things, happy you are if you do them.”—John 13:16, 17.
20. What self-analysis can we apply to see if we have the mind of Christ?
20 Do we have the mind of Christ in this respect? Are we willing to perform humble, menial tasks in the home and in the congregation? Or do we want to do only those things that seem “important” or that will make us seem “special”? Are we willing to participate in the sometimes humiliating work of preaching the good news from house to house? Or do we only want assignments on the Kingdom Hall platform? Really, having the mind of Christ will keep us humble and approachable, even as Jesus was.—Romans 12:3.
21. How did Jesus show fellow feeling toward his apostles? Toward the crowd?
21 On one occasion, after a special preaching campaign, Jesus showed great consideration for the apostles. Although perfect, Jesus did not expect perfection from others. At the end of a preaching campaign, he did not insist that the apostles immediately go back to their preaching and do even better. He was considerate of their need for rest and took them to a lonely place for privacy. But when the crowd followed them, did Jesus get annoyed and impatient? No, for “his heart went out to them,” the account tells us.—Mark 6:30-34, The New English Bible.
22. What will help us further to understand the mind of Christ?
22 With such a fine example, is it any wonder that most of the apostles were faithful followers of Christ? Peter was certainly impressed by the things he learned in close association with Jesus. He probably supplied Mark with most of the information for his Gospel account. And slowly but surely Peter adapted himself to the mind of Christ. An examination of his first letter will help us to follow Christ’s example more closely.—Matthew 16:15-17, 21-23.
Do You Recall?
□ How can we have the mind of Christ?
□ What kind of man was Jesus?
□ How did Jesus react to children? To women?
□ What do we learn from the way Jesus dealt with his disciples?
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Jesus was compassionate and did not hide his feelings
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Jesus was a man of courageous action
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Jesus set an outstanding example in humility