“Have this mindset about you, which is also that of Christ Jesus,”
Conniption Alert! Conniption Alert! Okay, Groseclose, what is it now? Why the conniption fit? Once again, because of changes in cultural understandings, we find several English translations rendering this verse in a way that it skews the meaning of Paul’s statement. In this case, the NIV and the NASB both opt to render this as have this “attitude.” The Greek word that is used here by Paul is frone/w (phroneo), a word we have already seen and discussed in Philippians 1:7 and 2:2, and while it can refer to an attitude toward something that a person takes, in the Greek usage, the attitude was seen to have been adopted only after careful and thoughtful consideration.
Today, when we use the term “attitude” it refers either to a disposition toward something (“he has a bad attitude” or “what is your attitude toward these things?”). Rarely, in our modern usage, does the term imply that such an attitude has been thought out or reasoned through. Yet, the Greeks would consider that an essential aspect of the term.
So, did I surprise you with my conniption? I didn’t think so. It frustrates me to no end when people ignore their reason and go with their “gut” on things because 9 times out of 10, our “gut” is misleading us. We do not see God acting on his feelings either, but he acts upon the council of his own will…a reasoned activity again.
Now, do not misunderstand my diatribe. Feelings are part of God’s created design, they are not a result of the Fall. Feelings are good and proper. But, feelings are designed to be governed by the sanctified reason; not reason being governed by the feelings, which is the model that we find so many people following today. Everything becomes permissible when right and wrong is governed by one’s feelings. You have no right to discern behavior that is honorable from behavior that is sin if personal feelings become the ultimate arbiter. Today’s culture boldly proclaims, “Be true to yourself!” and feelings are the ultimate justifier of personal preference. God says, “Be true to Truth himself…and Jesus is the Truth.”
And thus goes my conniption. Yet at the same time, the most important aspect of this verse is yet before us. We are to reason about our interactions with one another based on the model of Christ…Paul will develop this further in the following verses, but the principle is before us…if you want to see the ultimate example of counting the needs of others as more significant than your own…the model is Jesus. Flee to him. Reason through and follow his example. Have this “mindset” amongst yourselves.