by Dan Russell
“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges. He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”
Philippians 2:5-8 (NLT)
SOUTHGATE, MI – Attitude is everything! Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Britain during World War II said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” Albert Einstein, the famous physicist who formed the theory of general relativity said, “Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.” So what kind of attitude should we have? A good one, obviously! A bad attitude is like a flat tire on your car… if you don’t fix it, you’re not going anywhere!
In the world around us, attitudes are often defined as either “good” or “bad”, “positive” or “negative”, and can include having attitudes that are kind or unkind, cooperative or uncooperative, or unifying or divisive. Millions upon millions of dollars are spent in the areas of business, education, and counseling in order to cultivate attitudes that promote teamwork, academic excellence, and mental health.
The dictionary definition of “attitude” is “a complex mental state involving beliefs and feelings and values and dispositions to act in certain ways.” But what is God’s definition of “attitude” in His Word, the Bible? The word translated “attitude” in Philippians 2:5 is the Greek verb “phroneo”, which means “to think in a certain way”. We are told that we must think the way that Jesus did when He was on the earth. How did He think? Where can we find His attitude described in the Bible? Beyond the words of Jesus in the Gospels, which give evidence of His attitudes told many things, we are given His precise “thinking processes” in the verses that follow Philippians 2:5. In fact, in the three verses that follow, namely verses 6, 7, & 8, we are given the three main attitudes of Christ. We would do well to study them, apply them, and live them out in our lives!
In Philippians 2:6 it says, “Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges.” This clearly shows Christ’s attitude of SELFLESSNESS! He was selflessly willing to leave the glory of Heaven and His equal existence with God, the Father, to come to earth on a mission of mercy to save fallen humanity from the curse of sin.
In Philippians 2:7 it says, “He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.” This is a wonderful example of Christ’s attitude of SERVANTHOOD! He was willing to become a human being in order to “serve” human beings. This was the Master of the Universe becoming a slave to humanity for the purpose of dying for the sin that had enslaved each and every human being.
In Philippians 2:8 it says, “When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on the cross.” What an awful, yet beautiful, picture of SUBMISSIVENESS to the authority of another. Jesus obeyed the call of His Father to drink the cup of suffering and death in order to appease the wrath of God and pay the sin debt for all human beings.
Notice that from start to finish, from birth to death, throughout the entire existence of Jesus on the earth, He exhibited these three attitudes. In His incarnation and birth, He showed us how to be SELFLESS. In His life and ministry, He showed us how to be SERVANTS. And, in His suffering and death, He showed us how to be SUBMISSIVE to authority.
In the midst of the tremendous truth of this great sacrifice of Christ is the example to Christians of what kind of attitudes we are to have as we walk the same earth Jesus did. And as we apply the attitudes of Christ to our relationships with Him, our family, our friends, our employers, our professors, our fellow-students, and all those we relate to in this world, we will have the same attitude of Christ Jesus! WHO Jesus was (and is) can be WHO you are as you seek to be a “selfless” “servant” who is “submissive” to authority. This is what it means to allow Jesus to live through you! As you yield to Him and have these attitudes, your whole life can be transformed into the Christian He really wants you to be. So stop “trying” to do it on your own and simply start “trusting” Him to do it in you and through you… through the transmission of His attitudes through you to those around you!
Check out my book on this subject, The Christ In Christian: How Every Christian Can Experience The Three Divine Attitudes of Christ
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Dan Russell is the Executive Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Southgate, Michigan, a Church Strengthener for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan, and an adjunct professor in the Christian Ministry Department of Spring Arbor University at two campuses in southeastern Michigan. He has 36 years of pastoral experience, including lead pastorates in Missouri, Kansas, and Michigan. He and his wife, JoLinda, live in Brownstown, Michigan, and have three adult children, along with seven grandchildren.