Is it possible to have “this mind” (Phi 2:5), but not have a gospel mind?
This mind involves profound truths: “the form of God” (v 6), “the form of a servant” (v 7), “the death of the cross” (v 8). What a field in which to meditate! But we could analyze this mind, yet not possess it.
This mind involves practical truths: it delivers from strife and vainglory (v 3), focuses on the interests of others (v 4), removes murmurings and disputings (v 14). What a blessing if every believer we know had this mind! But we could advocate this mind, yet not possess it.
This mind involves powerful truths: it produces unifying love (v 2), unnatural lowliness (v 3), unselfish likeness to Christ (v 4). What a prize to reach for (3:13, 14), this likeness to Christ emanating from the very core of our being! But we could affect this mind, yet not possess it.
But would it be possible to be progressively and genuinely transformed as the Spirit of Jesus Christ (1:19) develops this mind in us, yet not to have a gospel mind?
Paul wrote to the Philippians as the servant of Christ Jesus (1:1). Apparently, a gospel mind is consistent with a servant mind. This bondservant (literally, “slave”) rejoiced that others heard the gospel, even though the speakers aimed to rival and afflict him (v 17, ESV). The spread of the gospel was more important to him than his own reputation and comfort.
In addition, Paul makes it clear that a gospel mind is dependent on a servant mind. Without “this mind,” the Philippians could not shine as lights in the world (2:15). Whatever their level of gospel activity, the assembly could not maintain a gospel mind without a servant mind.
It is possible to have both a servant mind and a gospel mind. It is not possible to have a gospel mind without a servant mind. But is it possible to have a servant mind without a gospel mind?
The essence of a servant mind is advancing the will of God for the good of others, no matter the cost to the servant. Coming into the world, the Servant said, “I delight to do Thy will, O My God” (Psa 40:8). By this will we have been sanctified (Heb 10:10). Apart from the Servant’s coming and “the death of the cross,” God could not righteously dispense the blessings He desired for guilty sinners. What a price the Servant paid to accomplish God’s will for our blessing!
And what is God’s will for sinners today? “God our Savior … will have all men to be saved” (1Tim 2:3, 4). If, then, we are not sacrificing ourselves to advance God’s will for the salvation of sinners, we do not have a servant mind. It is not possible to have a servant mind without a gospel mind. Our service is suspect if our gospel work shrivels and dies. Do we expend our efforts in service on staunchly defending the finest points of our theology? Do we vigorously quibble over our standards of literary taste? Do we loudly proclaim the virtues of Biblically-guided worship, occupation with Christ, and resultant conformity to His likeness? Having done all this, do we have no energy or heart left to sacrifice for the perishing? Then we are not like Christ and “this mind” is not in us. “Let this mind be in you.”