5 Characteristics of the Mind of Christ

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Philippians 2:5 is the commonly quoted scripture: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” But what does that really mean? What mind was in Christ Jesus?

If you notice, the verse ends with a colon (:) rather than a period, because it is not the end of the sentence or the completion of the thought. In the following verses, the scripture breaks down for us what Christ did because of the mindset He had. Let’s explore those 5 points, given in this chapter, so we can THINK and ACT more like Him.

#1: He made Himself of no reputation.

Jesus is, according to scripture, the Almighty God (Mat. 1:23; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:8; Rev. 1:8; 21:6-7), so it is amazing (and removes all of our excuses) to find that the Bible tells us that He “made himself of no reputation” (Phil. 2:7). The English word reputation is about being highly esteemed and held in high regard.

HE made HIMSELF of no reputation. He didn’t end up in that state; He chose it. If we were picking our life’s trajectory, writing out the plan, and choosing our position in the social rankings, most of us would not select the option at the bottom of the ladder labeled “of no reputation.”

But Jesus did exactly that, even though He was fully God! Isaiah 53:2-3 describe Him like this:

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Notice: He was not esteemed, but He was despised. He didn’t make Himself the best looking, but had no beauty. He was not popular, but rejected and hidden from. If anyone should have been accepted, celebrated, known, desired, and esteemed it was certainly Jesus, yet that is not the path He chose on earth.

We have to remember to have the mind of Christ, so it cannot be about our reputation, our vanity, or our glory. That is not what we go after. We are not supposed to be celebrities making a name for ourselves; it has to be all about Him.

#2: He took upon Him the form of a servant. 

The next thing the Bible records is that Christ “took upon him the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:7). He was not forced to be a servant and it was not the only option He had. His mindset caused Him to take that on, to choose it.

Christ Jesus was different than so many people; He told others what was important but He did it Himself as the perfect example. When two of His own disciples (James and John) with their mother, asked if they could sit on His right hand and on His left in glory (Matt. 20:20-21; Mark 10:35-37), Jesus taught an important message that He lived out Himself. He said,

Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Notice: Despite what others in the world do or believe, greatness is not about dominion, power, position, or authority. That’s not how Jesus sees it.

Notice: If someone wants to be great or chief, he or she must be a servant or minister, which is from a Greek word that means an attendant or a waiter, and is translated in the Bible as servant. Even Jesus, the Son of man, came to minister, and to give His life for many!

If God manifest in flesh could serve, we can too. If we want to be great in His eyes, we must fulfill God’s will rather than our own agenda. Rather than seeking control, status, wealth, or dominance, with lowliness of mind (Phil. 2:2) it’s time to serve God and others.

#3: He was made in the likeness of men.

The mind of Christ caused Him to be made in the likeness of men. He was Emmanuel, God with us (Matt. 1:23), but He walked around earth in bodies like ours. That is saying a lot.

Our bodies are earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:7) from the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7), so it is amazing to know that GOD chose to be made like men. He was “the Lord from heaven” (1 Cor. 15:47) yet chose to walk around in a physical vessel that was ultimately not worth much. God was in flesh!

1 Timothy 3:16 says it like this:

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”

John 1:14 confirms the same, saying,

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

We have to learn this mindset: no matter how high you are or think you are, we have to be willing to do, be, go according to what God has purposed for our lives.

#4: He humbled Himself.

The passage continues to say, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself…”(Phil. __) To humble yourself is to bring yourself down, and Jesus demonstrated something so important in the mind of God. In James 4 we learn “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble,” and are told to “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:6, 10). No matter how popular pride becomes, if we want to be accepted by God & fulfill His will, humility must be evident in our thoughts and actions!

In Matthew 23, Jesus pointed out how the scribes and Pharisees were basically the opposite of the mind of Christ. They “love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.” (Matt. 23:6-7). Like so many today, their focus was on being seen and celebrated, being great in men’s eyes, so Jesus gave His focus (the right priority) in Matthew 23:11-12:

But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

The greatest is not the one with the highest position, the best seat, the biggest titles; the greatest is the one who humbles himself or herself to serve!

It’s time out for exalting ourselves and lifting up our names. Let’s follow the example of Jesus and take on His mind, and humble ourselves.

#5: He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 

Jesus, though fully God and fully man, resolved in his life and death to be obedient to His father (the Holy Ghost – Mat. 1:18, 20) and follow the Spirit. He showed us how to walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Rom. 8:1, 4), and how to be tempted but not sin (Heb. 4:15). His mindset was such that no matter what, He would bow to the will of God and the plan for His life, even as it cost Him His life.

This was evident in the garden of Gethsemane, when He earnestly prayed in his agony, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). Hebrews 5:7 records that He offered those “prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears.” He was in a fight internally, His soul and His spirit in conflict, but He was obedient!

His mindset, and the point we must serve God from, is this:

  • No matter what I (or others) want, Thy will be done.
  • No matter what I (or others) feel, Thy will be done.
  • No matter what I (or others) think, Thy will be done.

That mindset set Him up to not just say those words, but to actually be obedient unto death (the worst death ever) and complete His assignment for us. Can you imagine your life without His obedience unto death, specifically His death on the cross? His mindset shaped His actions, and we should be forever grateful for the results of His yes. Obedience is powerful, and it starts with making the decision.

It’s time for us to have the mind of Christ in us, not the mind of the world. In the words of Paul, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Phil. 2:3-4). Jesus did it, and with His help, so can we.


What did you learn from Philippians Chapter 2? What stands out to you? Share your comments below!

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There is SO MUCH in this book to the saints – the gospel, priorities, ministry, prayer, humility, suffering, contentment – that can help us live for Christ RIGHT NOW! Let’s dig in!

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