The Master’s Mind
The title of this meditation is suggested in the second chapter of Philippians. A careful perusal of the whole epistle discloses the sad lack of unity among the saints. It is true that while no outbreak of dissension was evident, perfect harmony did not exist. There appears to have been a difference between two sisters in the assembly (Ch. 4:2). This estrangement threatened to engender strife, and to mar the unity of the church. The apostle Paul without mentioning the discord makes a stirring appeal for unity (2:2-3). He exhorts the saints to esteem others better than themselves, and to exercise that lowliness of mind which expresses itself in true consideration of fellow Christians.
The manner of Paul’s appeal is a true indication that he possessed the lowly mind of the Master. Instead of exerting his apostolic authority to command, he entreats them to fulfil his joy by walking in humility.
The Pattern Of Lowliness
He then proceeds to present Christ, in verses five to eleven, as the pattern of lowliness.
This is one of the most magnificent passages of the New Testament; it is a comprehensive statement relative to the person of Christ. Here the humiliation of the Son of God is taught the saints as an incentive to their being truly humble. Believers are exhorted, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (2:5).
Christ in order to seek and save the lost veiled His divine glory in perfect humanity. The infinite stoop of our Lord in taking “not the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham” (Heb. 2:16), incites adoring wonder, and with the apostle, in reverence, we exclaim, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God” (Rom. 11:33).
The Revised Version translates the sentence, “He made Himself of no reputation” (V. 7), thus, “He emptied Himself.” This does not mean that He divested Himself of His Divine Essence or attributes, for it is true of Him, “I am Jehovah, I change not”. This passage teaches that the Eternal Word (John 1:1) emptied Himself of only the outward and visible manifestations of Godhead (Scofield).
“He took upon Himself a bondman’s form” (V. 7. J.N.D.), for Christ was willing to renounce His outward glory in the form of God to reveal Himself to man in the form of a slave, and to rescue humanity from the bondage of sin. Moreover, He became in the likeness of men. In the stoop of humiliation, without ceasing to be what He always had been, He became what He never had been before. The Word, the Eternal Son, was made flesh. He Who created all things was seen in Judea in the guise of a peasant. He was meek and lowly in heart, Jehovah’s perfect servant. His life was marked by poverty, weariness, human dependence, and subjection.
“Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the Incarnate Deity.”
Oh, that we could be more like Him! “He having been found in figure as a man, humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, and that the death of the cross” (V. 8. J.N.D.). The greatest marvel is, that Christ came from the bosom of the Father, from the surpassing glories of the Godhead, from the Heaven of Heavens where legions of angelic beings were His constant attendants, to submissive and sacrificial life among men. In His voluntary humiliation He was wholly subject to His Father’s will. Obedience to that will led Him to Calvary where He died in ignomy and shame. He descended from the highest height to the deepest depth. The “death of the cross” marked the climax of His self-emptying; He stooped to the lowest step in gracious condescension. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (2:5). In recognition of this, “God hath highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow” (2:10). How true His words: “Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 14:11). His glorious exaltation resulted from His humiliation and suffering. Even now devoted hearts bow in worship in His presence, and all creation yet will fall before Him in homage. Another has thus expressed it, “The eternal God bowed down to bless mankind in and by His Son, and received Him back possessed of the addition of a human nature to increased glory and exaltation because of His obedience.”
In view of the profound truth we have been considering, what manner of persons ought we to be in all lowliness of mind!
The Practice Of Lowliness
Doctrine should result in duty, hence we read words of practical counsel for the Christian life in this second chapter. Meditation upon the lowliness of Christ should produce that brotherly love and self-denial which foster unity. To have the mind of Christ in us will preserve us from discord (V. 2), vainglory (V. 3), and selfishness (V. 4). “In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (V. 3). This Christian ideal is only attained as we practise the humility of our blessed Lord. When lowliness of mind characterizes an assembly of God spiritual concord will be realized. Let us finally consider
The Place For Lowliness
As already suggested, this Christian grace is necessary for the unity of believers in the assembly. This unity will be seen by steadfastness in our service for the Lord (1:27). It will also be marked by fearlessness before the enemies of the gospel (1:28), and will result in an active effort to make known the “faith of the gospel” (2:27). The mind of the Master will make us alert to the working out of our own salvation with fear and trembling (2:12-13). Salvation is a large and inclusive term, embracing the entire experience of the believer from the time of his conversion until he is “conformed to the image of Christ.” It includes deliverance from the penalty of sin, deliverance from the power of sin, and deliverance from the presence of sin. Apparently, the second meaning is that which is used here. Through the “mind of Christ” in us, we shine in this dark world for Him, and by our likeness to Christ, souls are turned from darkness unto light. Oh, for grace to let the Master’s mind rule, so that His lowliness be reproduced in our lives! Then our activities will be fruitful in service for God (Vv. 12-13), productive in fellowship with the saints (V. 4), and characterized by the blamelessness and harmlessness that should mark the sons of God (V. 15).
May the Lord enable us to be occupied with Christ Who humbled Himself and became obedient to His Father’s Will, in order that we may manifest His lowliness and meekness of heart.
“Oh, to be but emptier, lowlier,
Mean, unnoticed and unknown,
And to God a vessel holier,
Filled with Christ and Christ alone;
Naught of earth to cloud the glory,
Naught of self the light to dim,
Telling forth the wondrous story
Emptied—to be filled with Him.”
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Spurgeon, when writing to his son and sending him a wedding gift, said, “I am sorry it is not more, but you know I have always been more keen on the saving of souls than the saving of sovereigns.”