lesson
8

Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

THE MIND OF CHRIST            Philippians 2:5-8

warm up
 
Suggest some areas of service to others that might cause some to say the following things:
[  ] "That's beneath me - I can't do that!"
[  ] "That's demeaning - for a person in my position!"
[  ] "That's humiliating - I won't do that!"
Suggest some attitudes that might cause someone to feel that way?
wise up

In Philippians 1:27, Paul encouraged his brethren to adorn the gospel by standing fast with "one mind" (in agreement) as they strive together for the faith of the gospel. In Philippians 2:2, he explained that being "like-minded" included having the same love (loving the same things), being of one accord (being united) and of "one mind" (which as we see in the verses that follow has to do with attitude.) In essence, the key to agreement and unity among brethren is to have "the mind (or attitude) of Christ" (Philippians 2:5.) That mind was subservient, humble and obedient. Can we honestly say that we have the mind of Christ? Let's take a few moments to see.

I. Are we willing to be Subservient - like Christ? Vs. 5-7

   1. The equality that Jesus had with the Father is one of the fundamental doctrines of the New Testament. (Cf., John 1:1.) But that is not the issue that Paul is pressing in this text. He wants the followers of Christ to consider the willful subservience of Jesus. To be subservient means to be "useful in an inferior capacity." While Jesus was equal with God and deserved the greatest honors of this world, he was willing, for our sake, to be subservient! 
   2. Paul understood that one of the root causes of many of the problems that can arise within the religious community has always been "the egotism" (or exaggerated sense of self importance) of those who should be serving. Many, unlike Christ, seek to build a reputation for themselves. In Luke 14:7-11 Jesus noted those who were jockeying for notable positions or seats at a wedding. What lessons can we learn from that parable regarding those who exalt themselves? What will become of those who choose to be subservient like Christ? 

   3. Discuss some practical benefits of this attitude in our everyday lives today. How can we put this attitude into practice at school, work, within our homes and within the church? 

II. Are we willing to be Humble - like Christ? Vs. 8a

   1. There is a distinction between subservience and humility. One may be willing to step down and serve in what he or she might consider to be a demeaning position for all the wrong reasons. (Cf., Phil 1:15, 2:3.) Some may wish to appear to be pious and humble when actually they are not. (Cf., Matthew 6:16 etc.) Jesus called such people "hypocrites." Some may serve giving "eye-service" as men pleasers but not doing the will of God from the heart. (Ephesians 6:5-7.) There is a difference between motions and motives. 
   2.
It was after Jesus was "fashioned as a man" (placed into a position of subservience in relationship with God) that he showed his true attitude. He humbled himself. When we find ourselves in a position of less honor or humiliation how do we respond? Does our true attitude come out? Do we humbly serve with "lowliness of mind" (Phil. 2:3) while in that position or do we murmur and complain? Which do you think is probably more common? Why? 
   3. Later Paul stated that he had known what it was to be "abased" and "to abound." However he had learned that "whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." (Phil 4:11-12.) He had loved others when they did not love him (2 Corinthians 12:15) yet he continued to serve. Will we serve only if others will also serve? Will we serve only if there is recognition and appreciation for our efforts? What must our attitude be if we are to learn contentment? 

III. Are we willing to be Obedient - like Christ? Vs. 8b

   1. Jesus stepped down from heaven and if that wasn't enough, he chose to humble himself as a servant of others and God. And if that also wasn't enough, he was willing to be obedient even to the point of dying on the most humiliating instrument of death ever devised by men - a cross. 
   2.
Our true attitudes become apparent when we only obey those things that are less subservient, less humiliating, and less sacrificial. We might be willing to help a stranger in the name of God but how many of us would submit to a cross? Perhaps one reason why God chose the act of baptism was as a test of our true attitude. While submission to water baptism does not begin to compare to the baptism of suffering that Jesus submitted to, it does require humility and obedience which is the attitude that Jesus possessed as he went to the cross. What are some other acts of obedience that require humility? 

wrap up

   1. Why would having the mind of Christ (an attitude of subservience, humility and obedience) enable brethren to be "like-minded?"  As time permits, make a list of  some of the practical benefits of such attitudes in our homes, at work and in the church. 
   2. If our Lord could have such an attitude, can we as his followers have anything less? 

Assignment

 Please read Philippians 2:9-13 for next week   copyright 2001