In Philippians, Paul addresses the Christian mindset. Like the Beatitudes of Christ’s sermon on the mount, these words focus on who we should be inside, and these internal attitudes should then affect everything we say, think, and do. Philippians 1:21 initially proclaims that to live is Christ, and Paul feels torn between his desire to join Christ in Heaven and his need to continue helping Christ’s cause in this life. All Paul does is focused on living Christ and drawing closer to a home with Him, and he encourages his fellow Christians to have that same focus. Like him, our single-minded focus must be Heaven and the expectation of our salvation.
In chapter 2, Paul turns his thoughts to having the same mind as Christ. In verses 2-3, he calls on us to have one love and one mind in humility. He calls on us to have a humble and submissive mind. Paul goes on to emphasize that this was the mind Christ had in this life, humbling Himself, obedient even unto death. This Jesus, equal to Father and Spirit in the Trinity and instrument of Creation, submitted Himself to become a sacrifice for the sins of the world. He had a right to resist, to refuse, but He did so willingly. He did so sacrificially. He put on submission and humility, and we should be likewise willing to submit and abase ourselves despite the rights we think we have.
Chapter 3 touches on having a spirit-centered mind. For several verses, Paul lists his own qualities that could allow him to boast among his peers – a Pharisee, a zealot, a Jew’s Jew one might say. He had power, admiration, and respect in his previous life. By verse 8, however, Paul claims to see these physical accomplishments as nothing compared to his relationship with Jesus Christ. The accolades and praises of man mean nothing compared to spiritual victory in Christ.
Finally, in Philippians 4, Paul calls on Christians to have a contented mind. Verse 7 describes a peace that surpasses all understanding, a peace that comes from a life of prayer and rejoicing in God. Verse 11 encourages contentment, and verse 13 reminds us that our strength comes from Christ. How do we accomplish this? Verses 8-9 tells us to meditate on the true, the honorable, the pure, and the lovely.
Our minds define who we are. As followers of Christ, we should be content, spiritually-minded, and Christ-centered in our hearts and minds. If we can have these qualities in place, then we can have peace and contentment in Christ incomparable to any other peace we can have here in this world, and we can then share that peace with others, continually helping the cause of Christ in this life.
lesson by Tim Smelser