“Let your gentleness be known to all. The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5).
This is an odd verse.
If we didn’t know this came from the Bible, we would find it odd that being gentle is a virtue. It doesn’t sit well with the American ideal of pulling yourself up by the bootstraps, life is tough get over it attitude. I am not sure if this gentleness thing would work so well in the corporate world either. I can’t remember reading a single book about leadership in the secular setting that advocates gentleness.
Yet, here it is.
The Greek word for gentleness can be translated as gentleness and forbearance. The idea is that the trait God is asking that his disciples display is gentleness in the form of forbearance. It means that we value the needs and the intricacies of the other. It means that we put the good of others, not over our own needs, but that it is as important. It means we recognize that we are not the same. We value different things. And, that’s okay. We will forbear.
Wow. Can you imagine a church living this out? Little Church and Lakewoodgrace, we are not perfect but I love seeing this trait in you. We don’t always have to get our way. What is good for the whole is good for us.
The motivation for gentleness and forbearance is that the “Lord is near.”
This can mean a couple of things.
- It can mean that the second return of Christ as Master and Judge is near. That is a perfectly good understanding of this phrase.
- It can also mean that wherever Christ-followers are, the Lord is in that space because the Lord is in the disciple. Therefore, wherever the disciple is, the ways of the Lord ought to be present.
Both are good understandings of the phrase, “the Lord is near.”
We are to demonstrate in our lives the quality of gentleness and forbearance because the Lord is near. As you might have guessed, this isn’t a gentle suggestion. This is a command. It’s an imperative.
How can you put into practice gentleness and forbearance today?