In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah asked the question…
“Who understands the mind of the Lord?” Isaiah 40:13
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul answers that question…
“We can understand these things because now we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16 NLT
What does it mean to have the mind of Christ?
It means that you can learn to think like Jesus. You can have the same thoughts, attitudes, and reactions as Jesus has. In fact, this is God’s goal for your life and my life.
“In your lives, you must think and act like Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5 NCV
What does it look like when you have the mind of Christ? Let’s look at 10 characteristics of a person who thinks like Jesus.
1. I KNOW EXACTLY WHO I AM.
I am not confused about my identity because Jesus had no doubt about His identity. He knew exactly who He was.
In John 6:35, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.”
In John 8:12, He says, “I am the light of the world.”
In John 10:11, He says, “I am the good shepherd.”
John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
John 14:6, “I am the way. I am the truth. I am the life.”
John 15:1, “I am the true vine.”
Mark 10:61-62, “I am the Son of God.”
Those are just a few of the times where Christ defines who He is. And, God wants you to know your true identity too.
Why is this important? Because if you don’t know who God made you to be then other people will decide for you and force you into their mold. You will be manipulated by the expectations of others. Then you’ll end up living a phony life because you don’t really know who you are. That leads to a stressful life. Stress happens when you try to be someone you are not.
2. I KNOW GOD’S PURPOSE FOR MY LIFE.
“I know where I came from, and I know where I’m going.” John 8:14
Jesus settled His purpose very early in life. At age 12 He was teaching the elders in the Temple. Mary and Joseph come to the Temple and ask Him what He’s doing. He asks, “Don’t you know that I must be about my Father’s business?”
Young children can understand this at a lot earlier age than we think. Parents, are you preparing your kids for God’s purpose for their lives even at an early age?
As Jesus matured and His ministry expanded He became more and more specific about the purposes for His life. In John 10:10, Jesus says…
“My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.”
That’s knowing not only who He was, but knowing His purpose. Right up to Christ’s death on the cross His purpose was very clear. The night before He was executed Jesus said,
“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? No, it is for this purpose that I have come to this hour.” John 12:27
Jesus knew who He was and He knew His purpose. He wants you to know who you are and He wants you to know your purpose.
3. I’M ALWAYS AWARE THAT GOD IS WITH ME.
“I’m not alone because the Father is always with me.” John 16:32
Jesus lived His life in the presence of God. He stayed connected to God no matter how busy He was. The greatest antidote to loneliness is thinking like Jesus. How can you stay aware of God’s constant care?
“Jesus often slipped away to be alone so He could pray.” Luke 5:16
This is not an occasional occurrence, this is a habit. That’s why He was always aware of God’s presence. How often do you slip away to pray during your day? If Jesus needed to pray during His day, how much do we need it?
You miss the gifts of God when you fail to get with God.
On the other hand, you get more done here, there, and everywhere if you pause for prayer. We need times to reflect, renew, and recharge.
4. I LET GOD HELP ME CHOOSE MY WORDS.
Jesus didn’t speak without thinking. He wasn’t just running off at the mouth. He asked God to help Him say the right words.
“I have not spoken on My own. Instead, the Father who sent Me tells Me what I should say and how I should say it.” John 12:49
Jesus says that God tells Him what to say and how to say it. Would you have happier relationships if you let God tell you what to say and how to say it? Would you have less conflict in your life if you let God tell you what to say and how to say it?
If your mouth frequently gets you into trouble, the antidote is to learn to think like Jesus.
5. I DON’T WORRY ABOUT PLEASING EVERYONE.
Are you a people pleaser? Are you always worried about what other people will think? If so, you can’t be what God wants you to be. But if you put on the mind of Christ you won’t worry about pleasing everybody, you will only focus on pleasing God.
Jesus was never manipulated by the response of a crowd. Jesus didn’t seek the approval or the disapproval of anybody else. He lived for an audience of One.
“I only try to please the One who sent Me.” John 5:30
Wouldn’t that simplify your life? If God likes what I’m doing… I’m doing the right thing. Obviously, Jesus did a good job because in Matthew 3:17 God says, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
The truth is you can’t please everybody. Even God can’t please everybody. Right now somebody’s praying for it to be sunny, somebody else is praying for it to rain, and somebody’s praying for it to snow!
Whose approval are you depending on? What if your answer to that question was God and God alone?
That doesn’t mean you make everyone else mad at you. Don’t get confused about that. To make God happy doesn’t mean you have to make everyone else mad. You just make God happy first.
6. I DEPEND ON GOD’S POWER INSTEAD OF MY OWN.
All the verses we’re reading today are direct quotes of Jesus Christ, powerful words coming from our Savior Himself.
“I assure you that the Son can do nothing by Himself. He can only do what He sees His father doing…” John 5:19
Now if Jesus Christ is that dependent on God the Father’s power, what about you and I?How do you know if you’re trying to do life on your own human power alone? It’s real simple – you’re tired all the time.
You’re tired all the time because you’re living on your own power instead of living on God’s power. Human energy runs out.
7. I FORGIVE MY ENEMIES AND THOSE WHO HURT ME.
Jesus is hanging on the cross in agony and pain, His blood is draining out of Him, the people who nailed Him to the cross are mocking Him and Jesus says,
“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” Luke 23:34
That’s the mind of Christ… to be willing to forgive the people who have hurt you.
When you hold onto hurt you are only hurting yourself. You need to forgive the person not because they deserve it, you forgive that person because being unforgiving is like drinking poison and hoping it kills them.
But Jesus doesn’t stop with just forgiveness. He goes even further in Matthew 5:44,
“Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those which despitefully use you and persecute you.”
Look at the verbs in that verse:
Love – I have to love my enemies.
Bless – I am to bless those who curse me.
I’ve got to do good to those who hate me and pray for those who despitefully use me or persecute me.
Love. Bless. Do Good. Pray.
8. I’M WILLING TO SACRIFICE FOR OTHERS.
“I am the Good Shepherd and I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:14-15
I sacrifice myself for the benefit of other people. A lot of people sacrifice for themselves, but if you’re going to be like Christ you must be willing to sacrifice for the benefit of others.
“I came here not to be served, but to serve others and to give My life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
To serve and to give. Those two words summarize the heart of Christianity. Following Jesus is about serving others and giving our lives away. Jesus said, “It is only in giving your life away that you’ll ever really know what it means to fully live.”
You probably know the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
God so loved the world that He gave. That’s John 3:16. Do you know 1 John 3:16? 1 John is a little book toward the end of the New Testament written by the same guy who wrote the Gospel of John. 1 John 3:16 talks about our responsibility.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for each other.”
That’s a whole new understanding of what it means to follow Christ. Just as God so loved the world that He gave, we ought to lay down our lives for each other.
9. I WANT TO DO GOD’S WILL, NOT MINE.
“I came to do what God wants Me to do, not to do what I want to do.” John 6:38
Do you realize what a radical counter culture statement that is? Almost no one today says, “I’m alive to do what God wants me to do, not what I want to do.” Instead, we all say, “I want to do what I want to do, when I want to do it, where I want to do it, and whomever I want to do it with.”
In John 14:31, Jesus says, “I want the world to know that I love the Father.”
Obedience is an evidence of love. Now, it’s easy to do what God tells you to do when it’s fun or pleasurable, but what about when God asks you to do something painful?
The Bible is very clear that God did not spare His own Son from pain. He let Jesus go to the cross. If God didn’t spare His own Son from pain, why would I assume that God would spare me from pain?
Pain is part of the plan. To think like Jesus means that I want to do God’s will even when it’s painful or difficult or seems impossible. The supreme example of doing what God asks me to do even when it’s painful is Jesus on the night before He goes to the cross. He is in the Garden of Gethsemane praying in agony and thinking about the emotional, physical, spiritual pain that He is going to face the next day.
In Gethsemane, Jesus prays the Gethsemane Prayer, “Father, everything is possible for You. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
In your life, you will often have a Gethsemane experience. There will be times when you’re in pain and you’re praying for some relief. But we need to remember that God’s will was for Jesus to go to the cross. God’s will was not to relieve His pain, but to let Jesus go through that pain for the good of other people and for the glory of God.
Sometimes you suffer for the benefit of others. That’s called redemptive suffering. Anytime you’re in major pain it is appropriate to pray the Gethsemane Prayer. The first part is the prayer of faith. Jesus says, “Father, I know you have the power to change this situation.”
You can pray that too, whatever situation you’re going through: a financial, relational or health problem. You start out with a statement of faith.
Then Jesus asked for help and deliverance from the situation. It’s appropriate for you to do the same, asking in faith. But the third part of the Gethsemane Prayer is surrender. In His hour of greatest need Jesus prayed, “Not my will but Your will.” That takes an enormous amount of spiritual maturity. That’s the mind of Christ.
“Jesus humbled Himself (His choice) and was fully obedient to God, even when that caused His death on a cross. So, God exalted Him and raised Him to the highest place, and made His name greater than every other name.” Philippians 2:8-9
The name of Jesus is the greatest name all around the world and it will be the greatest name forever and ever in heaven. Why? Because He humbled Himself and God raised Him up.
10. I THINK WITH AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE.
When you get the mind of Christ you begin to think the way Jesus does about your past, your present, your future, about life and death, about sin and salvation, about your friends, about rewards in Heaven – when you get the mind of Christ you think with an eternal perspective.
You realize that there’s more to life than just the here and now. This is how Jesus was able to handle pain. This is how you will be able to handle pain.
What is unbearable is pain without purpose, pain that is senseless. But human beings can stand an enormous amount of pain if they can see a purpose in the pain and see a reward past the pain.
That’s exactly what Jesus did when He went to the cross. He looked past the pain of the cross to the reward in heaven. He had an eternal perspective. He wasn’t just looking at the here and now. If you just look at the here and now you’ll get discouraged and give up.
“Jesus was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy He knew would be His afterwards. Now He is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven.” Hebrews 12:2
So whatever pain you are experiencing you need to view it through an eternal perspective.
How Can I Learn To Think Like Jesus?
- Study His life and words in the Bible.
“Keep your eyes on Jesus who both began and finished the race we’re in. Study how He did it.” Hebrews 12:2 MSG
Study how Jesus ran the race of life. The more you study the Bible, the more you’ll get the mind of Christ and think like Jesus.
- Ask God to show me the meaning and application.
“God, open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your word.” Psalm 119:18
If you will study God’s word and begin to apply it to your life, you’ll begin to develop these 10 character qualities in your life. It’s time to rethink your life.
Briefly check back on your discussion from the last week, “Choosing To Manage My Mind” and the three daily choices for a healthy mind… one, I must feed my mind truth, I must free my mind from destructive thoughts, I must focus my mind on the right things.
In 1 Corinthians 2:16, Paul assures us that we can learn to think like Jesus because he says that “we have the mind of Christ.” Here we’ll consider exactly what it looks like to have the mind of Christ, and what actions we need to take every day.
1) I know exactly who I am.
2) I know God’s purpose for my life.
3) I’m always aware that God is with me.
4) I let god help me choose my words.
5) I don’t worry about pleasing everyone.
6) I depend on God’s power instead of my own.
7) I forgive my enemies & those who hurt me.
8) I am willing to sacrifice for others.
9) I want to do God’s will not mine.
10) I think with an eternal perspective.
Discussion & Application
- Which of the ten characteristics stand out to you the most?
- “The Father who sent me tells me what I should say and how I should say it.” (John 12:49) — We must let God help us choose our words, but how can we let God help us do this? What are examples of situations where God’s help choosing our words could be important?
- “(Jesus said) I only try to please the One who sent me.” (John 5:30) — What problems in my life can be caused by trying to please everyone? What is wrong with that kind of life goal?
- “No one can serve two masters…” Luke 16:13 — Whose approval are you depending on for your happiness?
- “I came . . . to do what God wants me to do, not what I want to do.” (John 6:38) — We must do God’s will instead of our own will, but what is an example of doing what God wants instead of what I want?
- “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me.
Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Mark 14:36) — In the “Gethsemane Prayer” (Mark 14:36 above), identify these three key parts: (1) Faith; (2) Ask for God’s help; (3) Surrender.
Ask how you can pray for and support one another this week.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Help us know who we are, what is your purpose for our lives and that you are always with us. Jesus, give us strength to follow your example of doing God’s will and humbling ourselves to be fully obedient. Bless us with your direction in choosing our words, forgiving our enemies and sacrificing for others. Holy Spirit, put in our hearts the eternal perspective and the understanding to have the mind of Christ in our daily lives. We ask all these blessings in your name, Jesus. Amen.
Make sure you’re on the same page about SERVE Day. July 18th. You can get ideas and/or register your project https://rockbrook.org/serve