The Greek expression in Philippians 4:5 is “to epieikes humoon.” It is sometimes translated “forbearance” and some times “moderation” and sometimes “your sweet reasonableness.” A similar word is used by James in 3:17 which is usually translated “gentle”. It appears again in 1 Tim. 3:3. Paul uses it in describing Felix as being known for his “kindness”. Paul also uses the term in respect to God in Romans 2:4. There he tells the Romans, “that the kindness of God leads you to repentance”.
The Philippian letter has a lot of good advice for Christians but this is one of my favorites, right up there with “rejoice in the Lord”. The letter should be read more today. Our world has seemingly lost this trait no matter which of the words you use.
The news is filled with ugliness as it pans across the globe and in our own country violence erupts over every disagreement of policy or philosophy. Even “religious” people have joined the fray. People shout obscenities, throw things, make fun and in general show anger and hate. Where are the peacemakers?
What is the role of Christians in all this terrible turmoil of clashing ideologies? Paul says our gentleness needs to show. While others rant and rave on Facebook or other forms of media the Christian offers a sweet reasonableness. Like Felix, we should be known for our kindness.
As a child, my mom used to quote things to me. Sometimes it was scripture and sometimes it was “sayings” she grew up with. I occasionally lost my temper with someone or thing and she would stop me dead in my tracks.
“A soft answer turns away wrath.”
So true, Mom. Wish you could get on CNN and tell the world that timely proverb (Proverbs 15:1). The world wide audience could use the second half of the proverb as well, “A harsh word stirs up anger.”
People are shouting harsh words. At protests, in bars, from car windows, on Twitter and Facebook. The result is more and more anger. Christians, however, are to let their sweet spirit be known to all men. Today we can use harsh words or soft ones. What is your choice?