Have you ever struggled with living up to biblical expectations? Here are some examples from the book of Philippians: “Do not be anxious about anything,” “Rejoice in the Lord always,” and “whatever is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Those are difficult enough to practice in our lives, but there is another verse in Philippians that you may find hard to live up to as well. It is where I have always believed that I fall a short of the mark: “Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5).
When people describe me, “gentle” is not the first word that comes to mind. “Enthusiastic” or “Energetic” maybe, but not “gentle.” Because I am a woman who wants to exhibit godliness, it bothers me that I am not demure and reserved like this word seems to imply.
But if you’re like me, and are more boisterous than subdued, I have some good news for you. There is more to the word “gentleness” than meets the eye.
I decided to do a little investigation into the Greek roots of “gentleness” as used here, and found out that this word, “epieikes” also means “moderation,” “readiness to forgive injuries,” “equity in the management of business,” and “sweetness of disposition.” According to the Adam Clarke Commentary, Paul was actually encouraging the Philippians (and us) to keep a restraint on “passions, general soberness of living and all excesses.” In the Greek, “gentleness” can also mean “patience” or “having patience with one another.” One word. Multiple definitions.
So putting this all together, it’s my belief that gentleness as used by Paul doesn’t mean to be a wallflower and never say a word. It doesn’t indicate that it’s not okay to be the life of the party. No, it means to practice a life of moderation and to be patient with one another. Paul is saying, don’t let your actions do anything to divide. It’s important to get along with each other, and one way to do that is by being patient with those around you.
So what do you think? Are you “gentle” after all? In my never-ending quest to be a godly woman, it’s a relief to find out the true meaning of this word and that I can now put a check by the “gentleness” box.
Categories: Devotion of the Week