Philippiansby David Sanford
When Christians memorise Philippians 4:4 and the verses that follow, some may be tempted to skip or gloss over verse 5. That would be a huge mistake. This verse revolutionised my life a few years ago. Let's consider each phrase of this verse in turn.
Paul asks the Philippians to ″let your gentleness be evident to all″ (v. 5). ″Evident″ isn't a word we use every day. The New International Version (NIV) of the Bible uses it only three times (1 Chronicles 4:41; Galatians 1:7; Philippians 4:5). Even obscure words like ″aforethought″ show up more often. So, it's helpful to pause and spend some time meditating on the synonyms of ″evident″, which include ″noticeable″, ″observable″, and ″recognisable″. Other closely related words include ″obvious″ and ″plain″. The bottomline: ″evident″ means something others can see (see Matthew 5:16). Can others see your gentleness as a believer in Christ?
Secondly, ″gentleness″ isn't an everyday word, either. It appears only half a dozen times in the New Testament epistles (2 Corinthians 10:1; Galatians 5:23; Philippians 4:5; Colossians 3:12; 1 Timothy 6:11; 1 Peter 3:15). Elsewhere in the New Testament, it is always linked to other virtues. In one of the recorded instances where Jesus describes himself, He says, ″I am gentle and humble in heart″ (Matthew 11:29). In every way, Christ is completely gentle and humble. As Christians, we too are to be completely gentle and humble (Ephesians 4:2).
What does this look like to others? It looks like being patient, ″bearing with one another in love″ (v. 2), tolerance and reasonableness, care and consideration for others, mercy and kindness, and unselfishness and love. In a word, it looks like Jesus.
Several years ago, I realised I didn't always look like Jesus to my wife. Since then, I tell the Lord daily that I choose to honour, love, respect, cherish, nurture, and encourage Renée. I tell Him that I choose to be gentle and not exasperated, frustrated, harsh, contemptuous, demanding, or demeaning to her. That prayer revolutionised my marriage. Renée hasn't changed, but I sure have. As a result, we're both much happier, and others can see the difference.
Finally, we can't help looking and acting more like Jesus when we ponder the fact that ″The Lord is near″ (Philippians 4:5). Paul highlights the Lord's nearness, which speaks of the day of the Lord (see Day 11). It also speaks of the Lord's closeness to us. May the Word of God sink deep into our hearts today. Are we looking like Jesus Christ, humble and gentle, and aware of His nearness?
Which is easier for you: looking like Jesus with your friends, or with your family? Why is there a difference?
Write a brief prayer with you choosing to be ″gentle and humble in heart″ (Matthew 11:29), like Jesus.