“May [God] grant you to have among yourselves the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had.”—ROMANS 15:5.
1, 2. (a) How do many brothers and sisters feel about spirituality? (b) What important questions will we discuss in this article?
A SISTER in Canada says that being a spiritual, or spiritually-minded, person has made her happier and has helped her with problems in her life. A brother in Brazil who has been married for 23 years says that being spiritually-minded has helped him and his wife to have a happy marriage. A brother in the Philippines says that being spiritually-minded has given him peace of mind and has helped him to get along with brothers and sisters from different backgrounds.
2 It is clear that we benefit in many ways when we are spiritually-minded. What can we do to become more spiritually-minded and enjoy those benefits? First, we need to understand what the Bible says about spiritual people, those who are guided by God’s holy spirit and who think as Jehovah thinks. In this article, we will answer three important questions: (1) What does it mean to be a spiritual, or spiritually-minded, person? (2) What examples will help us to grow in our spirituality? (3) How will our effort to have “the mind of Christ” help us to be spiritual people?
WHAT IS A SPIRITUAL PERSON?
3. How does the Bible describe the difference between a physical person and a spiritual person?
3 The apostle Paul helps us to understand the difference between a “spiritual man” and “a physical man.” (Read 1 Corinthians 2:14-16.) A physical person “does not accept the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot get to know them.” In contrast, a spiritual person “examines all things” and has “the mind of Christ,” which means that he strives to think as Christ does. Paul encourages us to be spiritual people. In what other ways are physical people different from spiritual people?
4, 5. How can we identify a physical person?
4 How does a physical person think? A physical person adopts the attitude of the world, which focuses on selfish desires. Paul describes this attitude as “the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:2) This attitude influences most people to imitate those around them. They simply do what seems right to them, without caring about God’s standards. A physical, or fleshly-minded, person thinks mainly about physical things and often feels that his position, money, or personal rights are more important than anything else.
5 A physical person often practices what the Bible calls “the works of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:19-21) In Paul’s first letter to the Christians in Corinth, he mentions other things that physical people do. They take sides in disagreements, try to divide people, encourage others to rebel, take one another to court, have no respect for headship, and make food and drink too important in their lives. A physical person does not resist when he is tempted to do something wrong. (Proverbs 7:21, 22) Jude said that physical people could even lose Jehovah’s spirit.—Jude 18, 19.
6. How can we identify a spiritual person?
6 In contrast with a physical person, a spiritual person cares deeply about his relationship with God. He allows himself to be guided by God’s holy spirit and strives to imitate Jehovah. (Ephesians 5:1) He makes an effort to learn how Jehovah thinks and to see things as Jehovah does. God is very real to him. Unlike a physical person, a spiritual person respects Jehovah’s standards in every part of his life. (Psalm 119:33; 143:10) He does not practice “the works of the flesh” but tries to develop “the fruitage of the spirit.” (Galatians 5:22, 23) To explain further what it means to be spiritually-minded, think of this comparison: Someone who is good at business is called business-minded, and someone who truly cares about his worship of God is called spiritually-minded.
7. What does the Bible say about spiritually-minded people?
7 Jesus said that spiritually-minded people are happy. We read at Matthew 5:3: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the Kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.” Romans 8:6 explains that our life depends on thinking as Jehovah thinks: “Setting the mind on the flesh means death, but setting the mind on the spirit means life and peace.” So if we are spiritually-minded, right now we can have peace with God and with ourselves, and we can have the hope of everlasting life.
8. Why can it be difficult to become and remain a spiritual person?
8 However, we live in a dangerous world. Because we are surrounded by people who do not think God’s thoughts, it takes real effort to protect our mind. If we do not fill our mind with Jehovah’s thoughts, the world will fill our mind with its fleshly attitudes and thinking. What can we do to avoid that? How can we grow spiritually?
LEARN FROM GOOD EXAMPLES
9. (a) What can teach us to become spiritually-minded? (b) What good examples will we discuss?
9 Just as a child needs to learn from his parents and imitate their good example, we need to learn from and imitate those who have a close relationship with Jehovah. This will teach us how to become spiritually-minded. On the other hand, we learn what not to do by observing fleshly-minded people. (1 Corinthians 3:1-4) The Bible contains both good and bad examples. Let us examine some good examples that we can learn from: Jacob, Mary, and Jesus.
10. How did Jacob show that he was a spiritual person?
10 Like many of us, Jacob did not have an easy life. His own brother, Esau, wanted to kill him. His father-in-law kept trying to cheat him. But Jacob’s faith in Jehovah’s promise to Abraham remained strong. Jacob knew that his family would be part of the fulfillment of this wonderful promise, so he took good care of them. (Genesis 28:10-15) Jacob did not allow the fleshly attitude of the people around him to make him forget Jehovah’s promises. For example, Jacob begged Jehovah to save him when he thought he was in danger from his brother. He prayed: “You have said: ‘I will certainly deal well with you, and I will make your offspring like the grains of sand of the sea.’” (Genesis 32:6-12) Jacob had strong faith in Jehovah’s promises and proved it by how he lived.
11. How do we know that Mary was a spiritually-minded person?
11 Now think about Mary. Jehovah chose her to be the mother of Jesus because she was a spiritually-minded person. Read what Mary said when she visited her relatives Zechariah and Elizabeth. (Read Luke 1:46-55.) We can see that Mary loved God’s Word and knew the Hebrew Scriptures well. (Genesis 30:13; 1 Samuel 2:1-10; Malachi 3:12) And even after Mary and Joseph were married, they waited until Jesus was born to have sexual relations. Their assignment from God was more important to them than their own desires. (Matthew 1:25) Also, Mary carefully watched everything that happened as Jesus grew up and listened to the things he taught. She “kept all these sayings in her heart.” (Luke 2:51) It is clear that she was very interested in God’s promises about the Messiah. Can we imitate Mary and always try to do what God wants us to do?
12. (a) How did Jesus imitate his Father? (b) How can we imitate Jesus? (See opening picture.)
12 Of all the people who have ever lived, Jesus is the best example of a spiritually-minded person. During his life and ministry on earth, he proved that he wanted to imitate his Father. Jesus thought, felt, and acted like Jehovah. He did God’s will and respected his standards. (John 8:29; 14:9; 15:10) For example, compare the way that Isaiah described Jehovah’s compassion with the way that Mark described Jesus’ feelings. (Read Isaiah 63:9; Mark 6:34.) Do we imitate Jesus by always being ready to show compassion to those who need help? Like Jesus, do we focus on preaching and teaching the good news? (Luke 4:43) Spiritually-minded people are compassionate and try to help others.
13, 14. (a) What can we learn from spiritually-minded people today? (b) Give an example.
13 Today, there are many spiritually-minded brothers and sisters who strive to imitate Christ. You may notice that they are zealous in the ministry, hospitable, and compassionate. Even though they are not perfect, they try very hard to develop good qualities and to do what Jehovah wants them to do. Rachel, a sister in Brazil, says: “I loved to follow the world’s fashions. As a result, I did not dress very modestly. But learning the truth moved me to make the needed effort to be a spiritual person. Making changes was not easy, but I became happier and found real purpose in life.”
14 Reylene, a sister in the Philippines, had a different problem. Even though she was in the truth, she focused on getting higher education and a good job. In time, her spiritual goals became less important to her. She says, “I began to realize that something was missing in my life, something far more important than my job.” Reylene changed her way of thinking and made her service to Jehovah the most important thing in her life. Now she trusts Jehovah’s promise at Matthew 6:33, 34 and says, “I know for sure that Jehovah will take care of me!” You may know brothers and sisters in your congregation who have the same attitude. When we see how they imitate Christ, we want to follow their faithful example.—1 Corinthians 11:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:7.
HAVE “THE MIND OF CHRIST”
15, 16. (a) What do we need to do to be like Christ? (b) How can we allow “the mind of Christ” to affect us?
15 How can we imitate Christ? First Corinthians 2:16 explains that we need to have “the mind of Christ.” Romans 15:5 reminds us to develop “the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had.” To be like Christ, we need to learn how he thought, felt, and acted. Jesus cared more about his relationship with God than about anything else. So being like Jesus makes us more like Jehovah. That is why it is very important that we learn to think as Jesus did.
16 How can we learn to think like Jesus? His disciples watched him perform miracles, listened to him teach large crowds, saw how he treated all kinds of people, and noticed how he was guided by Jehovah’s thinking. They said: “We are witnesses of all the things he did.” (Acts 10:39) Today, we cannot see Jesus. But we have the Gospel accounts, which help us get to know him very well. When we read and meditate on the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we learn more about how Jesus thinks. This helps us “to follow his steps closely” so that we can have “the same mental disposition” that he had.—1 Peter 2:21; 4:1.
17. How will thinking like Christ help us?
17 How will we benefit if we think like Christ? Just as eating healthful food makes our body strong, filling our mind with Christ’s thinking makes us spiritually strong. Little by little, we come to know what he would do in any situation. Then we are able to make wise decisions that please God and give us a clean conscience. Do you not think that these are good reasons to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”?—Romans 13:14.
18. What have you learned about being a spiritually-minded person?
18 This article has helped us to understand what it means to be a spiritually-minded person. We have learned from the good examples of people who were guided by holy spirit. We also learned that having “the mind of Christ” helps us to think as Jehovah thinks and have a close relationship with him. But there is more that we can learn. For example: How can we know if we are spiritually strong? What can we do to become spiritually stronger? And how does spirituality affect our life? Let us see in the next article.