Philippians 2:5-8

Early in my pastoral ministry, I invited a more seasoned minister, Mike, to lead our church in a series of renewal services. He led us well, but his greatest impact on me came through a note he sent me afterwards. Mike wrote, “You have great potential for ministry, Dee. Become who you are.” I cherish that note because it broadened my understanding of how Christian growth happens. 

I’ve often thought of growth as the fruit of habits formed, lessons learned, skills mastered, tests passed, obstacles overcome. Certainly, my life has often been improved through personal discipline. But Mike’s note and Paul’s verses invite us to grow in a different way. Even our best efforts are not enough to achieve the mindset Jesus adopted. 

The RSV translates verse 5: Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. Christian growth is not a “how” that we accomplish as much as it is a “Who” that we embrace. The mind of Christ is not an external goal we spend our lives striving to achieve, but a gift that we accept as we give our lives to Christ. Jesus did not count equality with God as something to grasp. Rather, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (v. 8, ESV). This mindset, this gift of God’s grace, forms within us as we live with Christ, long to be like him, and discover the difference between who God is and who God created us to be. With Christ’s help, we become, as Mike encouraged me years ago, who we truly are. We are those who depend on Christ.


How is Christ helping you to become who you truly are?


Lord, the call to adopt your attitude toward life feels so far beyond me. Thank you that when you give yourself to us in saving love, you dwell within us. Thank you for helping us learn to see ourselves as you do. Amen.

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