1. Among several general exhortations which Paul includes in this last chapter of his epistle to the Philippians, we find the following admonition: "Let your gentleness (moderation,KJV) be known be known to all men. The Lord is at hand." - Philippians 4:5
2. The virtue referred to in this verse is a very important one, and well worth the time in this lesson taking a closer look at it.
A. DEFINITION OF "GENTLENESS"... (from Barclay)
1. The word epi-ei-kei-a is one of the most untranslatable words in Greek
2. The difficulty can be seen by the various translations given it:
a. Patience (Wycliffe)
b. Softness (Tyndale, Cranmer)
c. The patient mind (Geneva Bible)
d. Modesty (Rheims Bible)
e. Forbearance (Revised Version)
f. Moderation (King James Version)
g. Sweet Reasonableness (Matthew Arnold)
B. DESCRIPTION OF "GENTLENESS"... (from Erdmans)
1. It describes that courtesy and graciousness which should characterize a Christian gentleman
2. The term indicates something of "the power of yielding"
a. The ability to give way to the wishes of others
b. The poise of soul which enables one to sacrifice his own rights, not by necessity, but out of generosity and sympathy
3. It is the opposite of stubbornness and thoughtlessness
4. It was embodied in the man Jesus Christ - 2 Corinthians 10:1
C. "GENTLENESS", THEN... (as defined by Pulpit Commentary)
1. Is the opposite of contention, rigor and severity
2. Is the spirit that enables a man to bear injuries with patience, and not demand all that is rightly his due, for the sake of peace
3. A good example of where this virtue is to be applied is seen in 1 Corinthians 6:1-7 (note the willingness to be defrauded encouraged by the apostle Paul)
A. IT IS TO BE A PERSONAL QUALITY OF ALL CHRISTIANS
1. Notice that Paul says "Let YOUR gentleness..."
2. Elders especially must display this virtue - 1 Timothy 3:3
3. Indeed, ALL Christians are to display this virtue - Titus 3:1-2
5. For good reason, for it is a part of that "heavenly wisdom" which comes from above – James 3:17
B. IT IS TO BE KNOWN TO ALL MEN
1. This is the difficult part of the exhortation
a. It is easy to be considerate, kind, and gentle toward some persons
b. There are others, however, toward whom it is difficult to show a spirit of gentleness
2. The hard task, and the real test, is to display this "gentleness" or "sweet reasonableness" toward:
a. The unkind
b. The thankless
c. The perverse
A. "THE LORD IS AT HAND"
1. This may possibly mean "the Lord is nearby"
2. Or it could refer to either meeting the Lord at death or at His final coming, both events a re always imminent!
3. He who is our Judge is ever watchful, ever aware of our conduct and treatment of others
4. One day we will have to answer to this Judge!
B. THE DANGER OF NOT DISPLAYING "GENTLENESS"
1. If we are not gentle in our treatment of others, do we expect Him to be gentle in His treatment of us?
2. Remember the "Parable Of The Unforgiving Servant"? - Matthew 18:21-35
3. Also, James warning in James 2:13
1. The display of this virtue has great advantages
a. It can contribute much to the comfort of life and the peace of society, by reducing friction between people - Proverbs 15:1
b. It can contribute to promoting the gospel of Christ (as we demonstrate by our example the "gentleness" found throughout the gospel message)
2. Are we a "gentle people"? May we ever be, for "the Lord is at hand"!
3. Speaking of the Lord being at hand, are you living a life pleasing to Him...?
-- Don Treadway, February 2009 --