The Mind of Christ
"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus..." (Phil 2:1-5).
Paul introduces Philippians 2:5-11—concerning the humbling and exaltation of Jesus—by inviting Christians to recognize that humility is a gift to them in Christ Jesus. Through Baptism we are in fact made humble and when we act otherwise we live a conflicted life, running against our very nature as children of God. We are no longer held in bondage to the conceited sinful nature but have received the Holy Spirit, who gives us “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:12, 16). This does not mean that we cease to be sinners, since we remain so until we die. However, we are no longer ruled by the sinful nature, but rather by the Spirit. When we come to Christ Jesus, revealed in the Scriptures, the preached Word, and the Sacraments, we learn from Him and receive rest for our souls, which breeds gentleness and lowliness (Matthew 11:29).
Any human who boasts of anything in himself in this life acts as if God is not the Creator or the Redeemer. The fact that the Son of God humbled Himself to take on our flesh, suffer for our sins, and die shamefully on the cross should tear down all of our pretensions of greatness, or rights, and of privileges. The cross should—no, the cross does—humble us prideful sinners.
In Luke 9:23-24, Jesus says that His followers are to “take up their crosses.” We know that the cross is an instrument of pain and death, so these verses are a reminder that, as Paul and Barnabas taught in Acts 14:22, “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” This does not mean that bearing the cross is a work that merits salvation. Rather, the Christian receives hardship, frustration, pain, and persecution in his life—all things which challenge his faith—and bearing the cross means that in the midst of these sufferings, the Christian continues to believe in Christ’s forgiveness and mercy and does not conclude that God has forsaken him. Just as Christ’s life involved suffering before glory, so will ours be shaped by that pattern. In the Kingdom of Jesus, suffering comes before glory, humility before exaltation.