“Lose Your Mind!”
01/19/2014 PM, Sharon OPC
Dr. Jeffrey K. Boer
There was a little trouble in the church at Philippi. Nothing big. Hardly even worth mentioning at all. A few differences among the members – some strife, some discord, some jealousies – yet hardly enough to notice.
If you were to visit that church on a Sunday morning, you probably wouldn’t even be aware that these things existed. And even if you were, you probably wouldn’t be all that upset. “Par for the course,” you would have said. “No church is perfect.”
After all, this church at Philippi was a fine church. It was conservative in doctrine. It was supportive of missions. It had lots of good people.
No wonder, then, that Paul’s letter is full of warmth and affection. Philippians is almost a love letter. It’s a joy to read. It would have been completely understandable if Paul hadn’t even mentioned those few, minor flaws that existed.
But Paul knew how those little cracks in the glass could grow into larger
cracks that could cause bigger troubles down the line. So he suggested a solution that was designed to keep these problems minor, and maybe even patch them up altogether. This solution is the theme of our text. V. 5 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”
Actually, in the Greek, Paul uses the word, “phronew,” meaning, “to think.” He says, in effect, “Think like Jesus Christ.” In v. 2 he says, “Be of one mind.” “Think alike.” And then in v. 5 he says, “Think like Jesus Christ.”
Notice, Paul does not say, “Think like me.” He says, “Think like Jesus Christ.”
Now when Paul talked about “thinking,” he knew what he was talking about. Paul not only had a fantastic pedigree, circumcised the 8th day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, and a Roman citizen, but Paul also had a lot going for him mentally. He had a brilliant mind. Paul was a man who knew what “thinking” was all about.
Not everyone is born equal, you know. It’s just not true. Already in pre-school, certain children stand out as being exceptionally bright. Paul had one of those high potential brains that could really take him far. He had plenty of raw talent to start with.
Not only that, Paul also worked hard to develop that talent.
Now it’s true that many people with great potential never get the
opportunity to develop their minds to their full ability. It wasn’t too many years ago that many people simply didn’t have the chance to get a lot of higher education. Lots of folks, like my Mom, were only able to go through high school. And some, like my Dad, only had the benefits of grade school before they were brought back home to work on the farm or in the family business.
Not so Paul! Paul’s father saw to it that his son could develop his full potential by getting a top notch education. Paul’s home was a place that was also very conducive to learning, for it was a home with books. Paul’s father was a Pharisee. Paul even learned Hebrew. Not every Jewish son learned Hebrew, but Paul learned Hebrew, plus Aramaic, plus the Greek that was spoken in his culture. Already as a child, Paul was multi-lingual.
Not only did Paul speak three languages, he was also familiar with three cultures: Hebrew, Greek, and Roman. He was well-schooled in the OT, in the Greek philosophers, in Roman law, in Stoicism, and even in pagan mystery religions.
When Paul reached a certain age, it was decided that he should study
under the greatest teacher of them all: Gamaliel. Paul’s credentials were sent to Jerusalem. A transcript of his credits was mailed, along with his application. And Paul was accepted as a student of the great Gamaliel. Paul was considered to be well qualified to sit under the greatest teacher of his day.
Oh, and one more thing: Paul not only had a fabulous intellect; Paul was
fortunate enough to live in one of the most challenging times in history, in the
midst of a wide variety of cultures and philosophies. This was a time when political and philosophical pots were boiling with new ideas. The Nazarene, Jesus Christ, was upsetting the whole country. To use Charles Dickens’ phrase of a later age, “It was the best of times and it was the worst of times.”
But enough of Paul’s credentials and brilliance. All you have to do is read the book of Romans and you’ll see, immediately, that Paul was one of the mental giants in the history of mankind.
When God selected the man who would be the church’s very first missionary
to the Gentiles, and the man who would be the author of half the NT, and the man who would be the greatest preacher and defender of the Christian faith of all time, He knew what He was doing. He went outside even the circle of the twelve disciples. He went all the way to Tarsus to choose one of the finest brains He had created – a brain that He had honed to sharp effectiveness.
Certainly God could, and did, use an uneducated fisherman like Peter. But to do battle with the philosophies and religious ideas in Athens, and to deal with the lawyers in Rome, God chose Paul.
OK, now back to Philippi. There was a little discord, and a little strife, and a little petty jealousy in Philippi. Nothing too big, really. But it was there.
And what was Paul’s advice? “Think like Jesus Christ.”
Think about that for a minute! Here was the very best mind in all the church, and yet Paul, himself, realized that he was not equal to the task of dealing with this small problem. It was as if Einstein were being stumped by “How much is 2 + 2?”
These people were looking to Paul for advice. They were probably expecting from him a brilliant solution to their problems. They were probably thinking, “The solution to our problems is the brilliant mind of Paul.”
But Paul said, “The solution to your problems is the mind of
Imagine that! This was the same Paul who, before his conversion, was firmly convinced that what organized religion needed more than anything else was his mind! That’s why he studied and that’s why he became a Pharisee. That’s why he persecuted the church with great zeal, and that’s why he
meticulously observed the Pharisaic law.
Paul would have probably been voted by his theological peers as the
Pharisee most likely to succeed. And yet, this same brilliant, rising star, after his conversion, was saying, “You don’t need me and my mind. You need Christ and His mind.”
When you think about it, though, it does make sense. After all, since the church is Christ’s body, shouldn’t it have His mind? When the church doesn’t have the mind of Christ, it becomes something grotesque.
Ever hear the story of Frankenstein? That story is properly labeled a
“horror story.” This scientist creates a body, but then that body gets a mind of its own and suddenly is transformed into a hideous monster.
That’s exactly what’s happened to the church throughout history when it’s
abandoned the mind of Christ and has taken on a mind of its own. The church throughout history has been responsible for a multitude of wars and persecutions and inquisitions. The church has often acted like a hideous monster.
So Paul was saying, “Lose your mind. Lose your own way of thinking and think like Jesus Christ.” Paul says, “he made himself nothing,” “he humbled himself,” “he took the very nature of a servant,” “he put first the interests of others.”
Jesus Christ was a person Who forgave others. He was loving and gentle. He was compassionate and kind. Jesus was others oriented, not self-centered. He lived for others. He thought of others. He served others.
People of God, as the church of Jesus Christ, you, too, must lose your
As we gather together in this place every Lord’s Day, as we gather at the
Lord’s Table with our family in Christ, we must remember to think like Jesus
Christ. We must remember to think of others. Philippians 2:3-4 says, “3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
And then Paul says, in v. 5, “5 Your attitude [or “your mind” or “your way of thinking”] should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:”
And then Paul explains. First, in vv. 6-8, Paul says, “Look what Christ has done for you. Think like Him. Think of others.”
“6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”
A little later, Paul encourages us to think like this because God is working this attitude in us by His power and His Holy Spirit. He says, in vv. 12-13, “12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”
And then he adds the stinger in v. 14. “14 Do everything without complaining or arguing.”
Ouch! It’s hard enough to be constantly doing things for others and putting others first, but “without complaining?” “Without arguing?”
“Man! Why do I have to clean up my room? My brother or my sister messed it up!”
Well, Jesus cleaned up our mess, didn’t He?
“I always get stuck with this particular job in the church or in the office or in the home. When is somebody else going to do their share? Give, give, give. Work, work, work. That’s all I ever do. I never get any thanks or appreciation or help. Well I’m sick and tired of it!”
People that serve without grumbling or complaining are like lights or stars in this world, glowing with the radiance and beauty of Jesus Christ and of His Word of life. Paul says, in vv. 14-16, “14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out the word of life.”
Paul made this the goal of his whole life also. Paul wanted to put on the mind of Christ and to serve others with the attitude of Christ so that they, too would become like Christ, glowing with His radiance. He says, in vv. 16-18, that he does these things, “in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”
As Paul is describing this selfless and giving attitude of Jesus Christ, two people in Philippi come to his mind. He holds them up as examples for others: Timothy and Epaphroditus. Listen to how Paul describes these men in vv. 19-30. “19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon. 25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.”
Timothy and Epaphroditus, you see, had put on the mind of Christ. They now lived to serve others. They even risked their lives for the good of others. And they did this with eagerness and joy and without grumbling and complaining.
There’s a new movie out that my wife and I saw Friday night called, “Pay
It Forward.” It’s about this 7th grade boy who develops a plan to change the world. His teacher gave the class an assignment to come up with an idea to change the world and then to put it into action. So his idea was to do something “big” for somebody else – something they couldn’t do for themselves – something that wouldn’t be easy. He did this for three people. And then those three people were told that they couldn’t pay him back, but that they’d have to do something big for three more people. And so these acts of kindness would grow exponentially and change the world.
Well, you know, of course, that this movie stole that idea from Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ did something “big” for us – something that we couldn’t do for ourselves – something that was very difficult. He gave His life on the cross as a sacrifice to save us from Hell.
There’s no way we can even begin to repay Him for this act of love and
mercy. And now He tells us to go
forth and do good unto others and serve others and put others first.
He tells us to take on the mind of Christ, the mind of a humble
As more and more people of this world come to believe in Jesus Christ, this will change the world.
Every time we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we’re reminded again of this
force that can change the world and we’re reminded again of this key to harmony and beauty in the church: Loving others. Putting others first. That’s the recipe for a healthy church. That’s the formula for changing the
Don’t let even the smallest root of bitterness and envy and pride spring up in your heart. Those little cracks in the cement walls can eventually topple the whole building.
So put on the mind of Christ. He loved you. He served you. He lived and died for you. Now you love one another. Now you go and show forth Christ’s love to the world around you like a bright and shining light in a world of darkness. Lose your mind. Live for Him.