4 Ways to Develop the Mind of Christ Today

Christ
“He saw a great crowd, but he was moved with pity for them, because they were as sheep without a shepherd. And he started to teach them.”—MARK 6:34.

DOWN through history many individuals have manifested admirable qualities. You can understand why. God possesses and displays love, kindness, generosity, and other qualities that we esteem. Humans were created in God’s image. So we can appreciate why many would show a degree of love, kindness, compassion, and other divine qualities, even as most reflect a conscience. (Genesis 1:26; Romans 2:14, 15) You may realize, though, that some display these qualities more readily than others.

What are some good works that people may perform, perhaps feeling that they are imitating Christ?

Probably you are acquainted with men and women who often visit or aid the sick, show compassion to the handicapped, or give generously to the poor. Think, too, of individuals whose compassion moves them to expend their lives working in leper colonies or orphanages, those who do volunteer work in hospitals or hospices, or people who strive to assist the homeless or those who are refugees.

Likely, some of them feel that they are imitating Jesus, who set the pattern for Christians. We read in the Gospels that Christ healed the sick and fed the hungry. (Mark 1:34; 8:1-9; Luke 4:40) Jesus’ displays of love, tenderness, and compassion are reflections of “the mind of Christ,” who in turn was imitating his heavenly Father.—1 Corinthians 2:16.

Have you observed, though, that today many of those touched by Jesus’ love and compassion overlook a key feature of the mind of Christ? We can gain insight into this by a careful consideration of Mark chapter 6. We read there that people brought the sick to Jesus to be healed. In the context, we also learn that upon seeing that the thousands who had come to him had grown hungry, Jesus fed them miraculously. (Mark 6:35-44, 54-56) Healing the sick and feeding the hungry were outstanding displays of loving compassion, but were they the primary ways in which Jesus helped others? And how can we best imitate his perfect example of love, kindness, and compassion, even as he imitated God?

Moved to Respond to Spiritual Needs

Jesus felt pity for those around him primarily because of their spiritual needs. Those needs were of chief importance, more so than physical needs. Consider the account at Mark 6:30-34. The incident recorded there took place on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, close to the time of the Passover in 32 C.E. The apostles were excited, and for good reason. Having just completed an extensive tour, they came to Jesus, no doubt eager to tell him their experiences. However, a crowd gathered.

It was so large that Jesus and his apostles could neither eat nor rest. Jesus told the apostles: “Come, you yourselves, privately into a lonely place and rest up a bit.” (Mark 6:31) Boarding a boat, probably near Capernaum, they sailed across the Sea of Galilee to a quiet place. But the crowd ran along the shore and arrived ahead of the boat. How would Jesus respond? Was he upset that his privacy was disturbed? Not at all!

Jesus’ heart was touched by the sight of this crowd of thousands, including sick ones, who eagerly awaited him. (Matthew 14:14; Mark 6:44) Focusing on what aroused Jesus’ compassion and how He responded, Mark wrote: “He saw a great crowd, but he was moved with pity for them, because they were as sheep without a shepherd. And he started to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:34) Jesus saw more than a mass of people. He saw individuals having spiritual needs.

They were like sheep straying helplessly, having no shepherd to guide them to green pastures or to protect them. Jesus knew that the coldhearted religious leaders, who were supposed to be caring shepherds, actually despised the common people and neglected their spiritual needs. (Ezekiel 34:2-4; John 7:47-49) Jesus would treat them differently, doing the greatest possible good for them. He began teaching them about God’s Kingdom.

Notice the sequence and the suggestion of priority evident in a parallel account. This was written by Luke, who was a physician and keenly interested in the physical well-being of others. “The crowds . . . followed [Jesus]. And he received them kindly and began to speak to them about the kingdom of God, and he healed those needing a cure.” (Luke 9:11; Colossians 4:14) Though it is not so with every account of a miracle, in this case, what did Luke’s inspired account note first? It was the fact that Jesus taught the people.

This actually agrees with the emphasis that we find at Mark 6:34. That verse clearly shows how Jesus was principally moved to express his pity. He taught the people, responding to their spiritual needs. Earlier in his ministry, Jesus had said: “To other cities I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this I was sent forth.” (Luke 4:43)

Still, we would be mistaken if we thought that Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom message out of mere duty, as if he perfunctorily went through the motions of the preaching work that he had to do. No, his loving compassion for the people was a key motivation for his sharing the good news with them. The ultimate good that Jesus could do—even for the sick, the demon afflicted, the poor, or the hungry—was to help them to know, accept, and love the truth about God’s Kingdom. That truth was of central importance because of the role of the Kingdom in vindicating God’s sovereignty and providing permanent blessings for humans.

Jesus’ active preaching about the Kingdom was at the core of the reason why he came to earth. Near the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus told Pilate: “For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone that is on the side of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37)

Granted, it is not always easy to feel compassion for those who do not share our beliefs, especially when we encounter apathy, rejection, or opposition. Yet, if we were to lose our love and compassion for people, we could lose a vital motivation for sharing in the Christian ministry. How, then, may we cultivate compassion? We can try to see people as Jesus saw them, as “skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)

Does that not describe many today? They have been neglected and blinded spiritually by false religious shepherds. As a result, they do not know of the sound guidance found in the Bible nor of the Heavenly conditions that God’s Kingdom will soon bring. They face the problems of daily life—including poverty, family discord, sickness, and death—without having the Kingdom hope. We have what they need: the life-saving good news of God’s Kingdom now established in heaven!

When you thus ponder the spiritual needs of those around you, does not your heart move you to want to do all you can to tell them about God’s loving purpose? Yes, ours is a work of compassion. When we feel for people as Jesus did, it will be evident in our tone of voice, our facial expression, our manner of teaching. All of that will make our message more appealing to those who are “rightly disposed for everlasting life.”—Acts 13:48.

Our love and compassion should, of course, be manifest in our whole life course. This includes our being kind to the disadvantaged, sick, and poor—doing what we reasonably can to relieve their suffering. It encompasses our efforts in word and deed to dispel the grief of those who have lost loved ones in death. (Luke 7:11-15; John 11:33-35)

Yet, such manifestations of love, kindness, and compassion must not become the main focus of our good works, as they are with some humanitarians. Of much more lasting significance are efforts motivated by similar divine qualities but manifested in sharing in the work of Christian preaching and teaching.

How grateful we can be that God has revealed the mind of Christ to us! By means of the Gospels, we can come to know better the thoughts, feelings, qualities, activities, and priorities of the greatest man who ever lived. It is up to us to read, meditate upon, and put into practice what the Bible reveals about Jesus.

Remember, if we are truly to act like Jesus, we must first learn to think, feel, and evaluate matters as he did, to the best of our ability as imperfect humans. Let us, then, be determined to cultivate and demonstrate the mind of Christ. There is no better way to live, no better way to treat people, and no better way for us and others to draw close to the one whom he perfectly reflected, our tender God.

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