“…we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16)
WWJD—what would Jesus do? is a popular motto for many Christians who strive to live by Jesus’ example in daily life. While that’s a good guide for us in some things, I suggest something even more basic than that: WWJT—what would Jesus think?
The fundamental thing that separates Christians from everyone else in the world is first and foremost how we think and, only second, what we do.
When we became Christians, we were given the Holy Spirit to live in us and with Him the mind of Christ. There is nothing more basic to the Christian life than this. Since the mind is where we perceive, reason, think, and understand, everything flows from this. When we have the mind of Christ we have His views, His feelings, His temperament, and we are influenced by His Spirit.
Ray Stedman puts it this way,
“We have the very way of thinking about life that Jesus himself had, with that keen ability to observe what was going on around Him, that ability to evaluate the changing standards of men and to come right through to the very heart of the thing. That is the mind of Christ, the ability to know what was in man. He needed no one to tell Him because he understood men. That is the mind of Christ. The mark of it, of course, is that we will behave as Jesus did. In the midst of this present world we will be compassionate when others are severe; we will be severe when others are tolerant; we will be kind to the ugly, the poor, the obscure, the people of no ability or power...That is the mind of Christ.”1
Although we have been given the mind of Christ, we still have the capability of not thinking according to His mind. We can set our minds on earthly rather than heavenly things (Colossians 3:1–3). So how do we manage our minds so that they conform to the mind of Christ?
In answering that we need to remind ourselves that Scripture is the expression of the mind of God. We understand His mind by hearing, reading, studying, and meditating on the Scripture. This is by far one of the most important life principles we can ever learn.
Why? Because God’s Word is His thoughts written on paper for our study and consideration. His Word is how He thinks about every situation and subject. Many Christians do not tap into the wisdom of the mind of Christ because they do not know their Bibles. And so they make decisions based on feelings, worldly wisdom, or ideas from people claiming to speak for God.
To think according to the mind of Christ requires that we monitor four things.
What we allow in
What do you intentionally allow in your mind? What do you look at? Read? Listen to? Experience? We need to act like a gatekeeper or bouncer and guard our minds!
What we think about
Sometimes we go through unavoidable experiences, or we see and hear things inadvertently. How do we perceive, interpret, filter, and process that stuff? The answer is that they must be filtered through the mind of Christ—truth of God’s Word. Things that do not conform to Scripture should be reframed, revised, or reversed.
What thoughts we change
We all have things in our minds that do not conform to the mind of Christ. They are not true, honourable, right, pure, lovely, or excellent.
For example, we may experience a significant loss in our life and believe the fact that it happened therefore means God is not with us or does not love us. This idea does not conform to Scripture so the thinking needs to be reversed by learning that the Lord said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5), and changing our mind to believe it. Unless we grasp this we will not make any significant or lasting change or progress in our Christian life. Significant or lasting change in beliefs or behaviour depends on a change of mind first.
What we express
Our mind regulates what words and actions we express. We think first, then decide, then do. Sometimes words or actions will be expressed in the belief that they are right and good. Yet, they are actually contrary to Scripture. Our minds must be changed and renewed (Romans 12:2) so that we can do God’s will.
What would Jesus think? Let’s aspire to think like Him.
May the mind of Christ my Saviour
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say.
~ Kate Wilkinson, 1925
1. Ray C. Stedman, The Mind of Christ, Studies in First Corinthians, Discovery Publishing, 1978.