Keep Christ’s Mental Attitude in You
“Have among yourselves the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had.”—ROM. 15:5.
1. Why should we seek to adopt Christ’s mental attitude?
“COME to me,” said Jesus Christ. “Learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls.” (Matt. 11:28, 29) This warm invitation well expresses Jesus’ loving mental attitude. No human could be a better example to follow. Although he was the mighty Son of God, Jesus displayed empathy and tenderness, especially toward those in need.
2. What aspects of Jesus’ attitude will we consider?
2 In this and the following two articles, we will consider how we can develop and maintain the same mental attitude as Jesus and reflect “the mind of Christ” in our life. (1 Cor. 2:16) We will focus primarily on five aspects: Jesus’ mildness and humility, his kindness, his obedience to God, his courage, and his unfailing love.
Learn From Christ’s Mild Temperament
3. (a) What was one lesson in humility that Jesus taught his disciples? (b) How did Jesus react when his disciples showed weaknesses?
3 Jesus, the perfect Son of God, willingly came to earth to serve among imperfect and sinful people. Some of those would later kill him. Yet, Jesus always maintained his joy and self-control. (1 Pet. 2:21-23) ‘Looking intently’ at Jesus’ example can help us to do the same when others’ faults and imperfections affect us. (Heb. 12:2) Jesus invited his disciples to ‘get under his yoke with him’ and thus to learn from him. (Matt. 11:29, ftn.) What could they learn? For one thing, Jesus was mild-tempered, and he was patient with his disciples despite their faults. On the night before he died, Jesus washed their feet, thereby teaching them a lesson in being “lowly in heart” that they would never forget. (Read John 13:14-17.) Later, when Peter, James, and John failed to “keep on the watch,” Jesus sympathetically acknowledged their weakness. “Simon, are you sleeping?” he asked. “Men, keep on the watch and praying, in order that you do not come into temptation. The spirit, of course, is eager, but the flesh is weak.”—Mark 14:32-38.
4, 5. How can Jesus’ example help us to deal with the flaws of others?
4 How do we react if a fellow believer is competitive, easily offended, or slow to respond to counsel from the elders or “the faithful and discreet slave”? (Matt. 24:45-47) While we may be prepared to accept fleshly traits as normal in Satan’s world, facing such imperfections among our brothers can be particularly trying. If the flaws of others easily annoy us, we need to ask ourselves, ‘How can I better reflect “the mind of Christ”?’ Try to keep in mind that Jesus did not become upset with his disciples, even when they showed a measure of spiritual weakness.
5 Consider the case of the apostle Peter. When Jesus invited Peter to get out of the boat and walk toward Him on the water, Peter actually did so for a while. Then Peter looked at the windstorm and began to sink. Did Jesus become incensed and say to him: “Serves you right! Let that be a lesson to you”? No! “Immediately stretching out his hand Jesus caught hold of him and said to him: ‘You with little faith, why did you give way to doubt?’” (Matt. 14:28-31) If we ever have to deal with a brother’s apparent lack of faith, can we figuratively stretch out our hand and help him to gain more faith? That is certainly a lesson evident in Jesus’ mild-tempered action toward Peter.
6. What did Jesus teach his apostles about seeking prominence?
6 Peter was also involved in the apostles’ ongoing dispute about who was greatest among them. James and John wanted to sit one at Jesus’ right hand and one at his left hand in his Kingdom. When Peter and the other apostles heard of it, they became indignant. Jesus knew that they likely acquired this attitude from the society in which they had grown up. Calling them to him, he said: “You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them and the great men wield authority over them. This is not the way among you; but whoever wants to become great among you must be your minister, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.” Jesus then pointed to his own example: “Just as the Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.”—Matt. 20:20-28.
7. How can each of us contribute to unity in the congregation?
7 Reflecting on Jesus’ humble mental attitude can help us to ‘conduct ourselves as lesser ones’ among our brothers. (Luke 9:46-48) Doing so contributes to unity. Jehovah, like the father of a large family, wants his children to “dwell together in unity,” to get along. (Ps. 133:1) Jesus prayed to his Father that all true Christians would be united, in order that “the world may have the knowledge that you sent me forth and that you loved them just as you loved me.” (John 17:23) Thus, our unity helps to identify us as Christ’s followers. To enjoy such unity, we must view others’ imperfections as Christ did. Jesus was forgiving, and he taught that only by being forgiving can we receive forgiveness.—Read Matthew 6:14, 15.
8. We can learn what from the example of longtime servants of God?
8 We can also learn much by imitating the faith of those who have spent many years imitating Christ. Like Jesus, these usually show understanding of others’ imperfections. They have learned that showing Christlike compassion not only helps us to “bear the weaknesses of those not strong” but also contributes to unity. Furthermore, it encourages the entire congregation to reflect Christ’s mental attitude. They want the same for their brothers as the apostle Paul wanted for Christians in Rome: “May the God who supplies endurance and comfort grant you to have among yourselves the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had, that with one accord you may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 15:1, 5, 6) Yes, our united worship brings praise to Jehovah.
9. Why do we need holy spirit in order to imitate Jesus’ example?
9 Jesus linked being “lowly in heart” with mildness, which is part of the fruitage of God’s holy spirit. Therefore, along with studying Jesus’ example, we need Jehovah’s holy spirit, so that we can imitate that example properly. We should pray for God’s holy spirit and strive to cultivate its fruitage—“love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” (Gal. 5:22, 23) By thus following the pattern of humility and mildness that Jesus provided, we will please our heavenly Father, Jehovah.
Jesus Treated Others With Kindness
10. How did Jesus manifest kindness?
10 Kindness too is a part of the holy spirit’s fruitage. Jesus consistently treated others with kindness. All who sincerely sought out Jesus found that he “received them kindly.” (Read Luke 9:11.) What can we learn from the kindness Jesus showed? A kind person is friendly, gentle, sympathetic, and gracious. Jesus was like that. He felt pity for the people “because they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.”—Matt. 9:35, 36.
11, 12. (a) Describe an instance of Jesus’ compassion in action. (b) What can you learn from the example considered here?
11 Jesus also put his pity and compassion into action. Consider one instance. For 12 long years, a woman suffered from an abnormal flow of blood. She knew that under the Mosaic Law, her condition made her and anyone who touched her ceremonially unclean. (Lev. 15:25-27) Still, Jesus’ reputation and demeanor must have convinced her that he could and would heal her. She kept saying: “If I touch just his outer garments I shall get well.” Summoning courage, she did so and immediately sensed that she had been healed.
12 Jesus was aware that someone had touched him, and he looked around to see who it was. The woman, likely fearing a rebuke because she had violated the Law, fell down trembling at his feet and poured out the whole truth. Did Jesus reprimand this poor, suffering woman? Far from it! “Daughter,” he said reassuringly, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” (Mark 5:25-34) How comforted she must have been to hear such kind words!
13. (a) How did Jesus’ attitude differ from that of the Pharisees? (b) How did Jesus treat children?
13 Unlike the hardhearted Pharisees, Christ never used his authority to add to others’ burdens. (Matt. 23:4) On the contrary, he kindly and patiently taught others Jehovah’s ways. Jesus was an affectionate companion to his followers, consistently loving and kind, a true friend. (Prov. 17:17; John 15:11-15) Even children felt at ease with Jesus, and he obviously felt at ease with them. He was not too busy to stop what he was doing to spend time with little ones. On one occasion, his disciples, still nurturing ideas of self-importance like the religious leaders around them, tried to prevent people from bringing their young children to Jesus for him to touch. Jesus was not pleased with his disciples. He told them: “Let the young children come to me; do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to suchlike ones.” Then, using the children to provide an object lesson, he said: “Truly I say to you, Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a young child will by no means enter into it.”—Mark 10:13-15.
14. What benefits do children derive from wholesome attention?
14 Think for a moment about how some of those children would feel years later when as men and women, they would recall that Jesus Christ ‘took them into his arms and blessed them.’ (Mark 10:16) Today’s children too will look back with fondness on the elders and others who show them wholesome, unselfish interest. More important, from an early age, children who receive such genuine concern in the congregation learn that Jehovah’s spirit is on his people.
Show Kindness in an Unkind World
15. Why should we not be surprised by a lack of kindness today?
15 Many people today feel that they do not have time to show kindness to others. Daily, therefore, at school, at work, while traveling, and in the ministry, Jehovah’s people must face the spirit of the world. Unkind attitudes may disappoint us, but they should not surprise us. Jehovah inspired Paul to forewarn us that life in these critical “last days” would bring true Christians into contact with those who are “lovers of themselves, . . . having no natural affection.”—2 Tim. 3:1-3.
16. How can we promote Christlike kindness in the congregation?
16 On the other hand, the atmosphere within the true Christian congregation provides a refreshing contrast to that of the unkind world. By imitating Jesus, each of us can contribute to that wholesome atmosphere. How can we do so? To begin with, many in the congregation need our help and encouragement because they face health problems or other adverse circumstances. In these “last days,” such problems may be on the rise, but they are by no means new. In Bible times, Christians suffered from similar problems. Accordingly, helpful actions are as appropriate now as they were for Christians living back then. Paul, for example, exhorted Christians to “speak consolingly to the depressed souls, support the weak, be long-suffering toward all.” (1 Thess. 5:14) This involves putting Christlike kindness to work.
17, 18. What are some ways we can imitate Jesus’ kindness?
17 Christians have the responsibility to ‘receive their brothers kindly,’ to treat them as Jesus would have treated them, showing genuine concern for those we may have known for years and those we may never before have met. (3 John 5-8) As Jesus took the initiative in showing compassion to others, so should we, always being refreshing to others.—Isa. 32:2; Matt. 11:28-30.
18 Each of us can show kindness by taking an active interest in the welfare of others. Look for ways and make opportunities to do so. Reach out! “In brotherly love have tender affection for one another,” urged Paul, adding: “In showing honor to one another take the lead.” (Rom. 12:10) That means following Christ’s example, treating others with warmth and kindness, learning to show “love free from hypocrisy.” (2 Cor. 6:6) Paul described such Christlike love this way: “Love is long-suffering and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, does not get puffed up.” (1 Cor. 13:4) Rather than holding grudges against our brothers and sisters, may we heed the admonition: “Become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another just as God also by Christ freely forgave you.”—Eph. 4:32.
19. What good results come from showing Christlike kindness?
19 Our striving to cultivate and show Christlike kindness at all times and in every situation brings us rich rewards. Jehovah’s spirit will be able to operate freely in the congregation, producing the spirit’s good fruitage. In addition, when we follow the pattern Jesus left and help others to do the same, our happy, united worship will bring joy to God himself. Therefore, let us constantly strive to reflect Jesus’ mildness and kindness in our dealings with others.
Can You Explain?
• How did Jesus show that he was “mild-tempered and lowly in heart”?
• How did Jesus display kindness?
• What are some ways we show Christlike mildness and kindness in this imperfect world?
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When a brother’s faith falters, as did Peter’s, will we extend a helping hand?
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How can you help to make the congregation a haven of kindness?