How "Gentle" Are We?

Sometimes, when we study God’s Word, we might just be reading over a
particular statement, without pausing to deeply reflect on it and
meditate about the meaning. One of these passages might be Philippians
4:5, which reads, in the New King James Bible, “Let your gentleness be
known to all men. The Lord is at hand.”

The connection between
these two sentences should be very clear for us today: As Christ’s
return is imminent, and as “we all” and “each of us” will have to
“stand before the judgment seat of Christ” to “give account” for what
we did in this life (compare Romans 14:10-12), we need to make an extra
effort and concentrate on exemplifying “gentleness” to all with whom we
come in contact. But what, exactly, is meant with the word,

The Broadman Bible Commentary points out that the
Greek word “has no single equivalent in English.” It seems to be
describing a variety of characteristics. In addition to “gentleness,”
many translate this word as “moderation.” Others say, “graciousness,”
“forbearance,” “thoughtfulness” or “considerateness [for others].” Some
point out that the meaning of the word includes “yieldedness” or
“pliability” — the ability to be easily entreated. Especially German
translations render the word also as “compassion, kindness, tenderness,
tolerance, mercy, leniency, indulgence” and, most interestingly
perhaps, “helpfulness.” J.B. Philips translates, “Have a reputation of
gentleness.” Knox says, “Give proof to all of your courtesy.” And David
Stern translates: “Let everyone see how reasonable and gentle you are.”

doubt, all these expressions are vital ingredients of the Christian
character. As true followers of God the Father and Jesus Christ, we
must continuously strive to incorporate these godly character traits in
our lives.

And so, we need to examine ourselves to see how well
we are doing (compare 1 Corinthians 12:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5). If we
are lacking in anything, we need to pray, in faith, to God for help to
improve, and He will GIVE us the petitions of our heart (compare James
1:5; 1 John 5:14-15).

For instance, let us ask ourselves how
“gentle” we are towards others. The Nelson Study Bible states that the
word “gentleness” “identifies a person who manifests a calmness and
fairness of spirit. A person who is gentle is willing to sacrifice his
or her personal rights to show consideration for others.” The
Commentary of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown adds a very important and
relevant caution. It equates the concept of “gentleness” or
“moderation” with “considerateness for others, not urging one’s own
rights to the uttermost, but waiving a part… let nothing inconsistent
with ‘moderation’ be seen.”

Henry’s Commentary agrees and adds:
“In things indifferent do not run into extremes; judge charitably
concerning one another. Some understand it of the patient bearing of

As Christians, we must strive to become
considerate of the need of others, and we must act with a spirit of
gentleness; “easy to be intreated”(James 3:17, Authorized Version);
“without murmuring and disputings” (Philippians 2:14, Authorized
Version). We should be “moderate”–staying away from extreme viewpoints
which we are anxious to “share” with others. Rather, we are to
familiarize ourselves with the need of our fellow man, at times
VOLUNTEERING to help, rather than always waiting until we may be asked
for assistance. Christ came to SERVE, not to be served. As His
followers, we must strive to do likewise. We have to have the mind of
Christ (Philippians 2:5), who LOOKED OUT for the interests of others
(verse 4). We are God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good
works, which God PREPARED BEFOREHAND that we should walk in them”
(Ephesians 2:10).

Even though we are asked to do good to all men,
“AS WE HAVE OPPORTUNITY,” we are to concern ourselves especially with
those “of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). God poured out His
love in our hearts by His Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5)–and God’s love is
outgoing concern for the good, welfare and benefit of others. It
describes a way of GIVING and SHARING with others. Peter tells us,
“…love one another FERVENTLY with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22). And
John encourages us, not only to love “in word,” but also “in deed” (1
John 3:18). We are to love, give and help from a pure heart (compare 1
Timothy 1:5), making our gentleness known to all men–and especially to
our brethren in Christ. THEN all will know that we are Christ’s
disciples, when we have and show the “gentleness” of love for one
another (John 13:35).

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