Being Gentle in a Harsh World
The theme of Paul’s message to the Philippians is to rejoice no matter what. Even in the most difficult situations or challenges in life, the Holy Spirit will grant us an eternal perspective and “rejoice” over any circumstance. With this thought in mind, Paul continues to write;
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” (Phillippians 4:5)
The result of joy residing in our hearts, we will display evidence of being gentle. A gentle person is hard to find these days. It is in direct contrast to the world. Having a spirit of gentleness means looking out for the interest of others; living in humility, consider others better than yourselves; and being considerate.
But let’s take a closer look at the word “gentleness.”
Since God is forgiving and good (Psalm 86:5), abounding in love to all who call to him even though we are undeserving of his goodness, we should display the same goodness or gentleness to others. The Greek word used here is considered untranslatable in that one English word does not give it justice. The essence of the word is “gentle toleration for others in spite of having justification for intolerance.” This characteristic of gentleness is impossible without Christ and his grace and forgiveness for us.
We find it very difficult, if not impossible, to offer gentleness without experiencing gentleness in return. Yet, this is what Christ has done for us. Our response is expressing Christ’s love in return through our outward gentleness toward others without expecting anything in return.
In association with Paul’s encouragement to exhibit gentleness in our lives, he tell us that “the Lord is near.”
Paul inspires us to be joyful and gentle by reminding us that the Lord is near, he is coming soon. It’s been two thousand years since the words, “The Lord is near” was written for us. The people of Paul’s day were just as expectant as we are today of the Lord’s return. However, our day of judgment can also occur at anytime upon our death. We will no longer have a time of grace to turn to the Lord and trust in Him.
Young people rarely think of death in the same way that middle-aged or older people think. There is a feeling of being indestructible. Yet, a sudden illness or a tragic accident can snuff out our life in an instant. For this reason, the Lord Jesus teaches us that the Lord’s return can come like a thief in the night. We need to be always ready.
When the Day of the Lord comes, all the wrongs will be made right and all acts of selfishness of unbelievers will be truly exposed. With an eternal focus of the future rather than present circumstances, we can truly rejoice and be gentle.
The question I leave with you today is, “What legacy will you leave?” Will your loved ones remember you as a man or woman of gentleness who rejoiced, or a person who wrapped themselves up in day to day living, anxious about today and tomorrow, never seeming to be satisfied, never fully trusting that our Lord provides.
Solomon was considered an extremely successful person, but all that he attained he considered “dust in the wind.” Do you truly realize that two hundred years from now, nobody will know who you are or what you accomplished? You will be just a name on a family tree.
I believe a man or woman can leave a legacy — a spiritual one. A legacy of faith. Children will follow you. It all depends on how you invest your resources. A man of faith, who invests in pursuits, however noble, outside of time invested in their children will raise up a next generation who will despise their father’s faith. They will reject his legacy because their father had rejected them.
So, for today, look at life with an eternal perspective. Invest your most valuable resource wisely– which is your time. The rewards will be far greater than you can every imagine.