Let your gentleness be evident to all… (Philippians 4:5a, NIV)
Have you ever had a verse that haunts you? One that you can’t
quite figure out how it’s supposed to work in your life? When you read it, you are discouraged because it’s far from where you are currently, and seems so impossible. A verse that keeps coming up in your mind and doesn’t let go of you.
“Let your gentleness be evident to all…” does that to me. Gentleness is not a natural state for me. I’ve tried looking up this verse in other translations in the hope that different words will get me out of this bind, but that doesn’t help. Instead of just “gentleness,” I now find graciousness, unselfishness, mercy, tolerance and patience. Again, these are not my strengths.
For a long time, this verse has really gotten me down. It seems to highlight how I miss the mark in following Christ. But finally, I looked at the rest of the verse. “The Lord is near,” and I looked at the verses around this troubling phrase. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. This verse that is so difficult for me, is nestled in the middle of the necessary “how to.” By turning my eyes off myself and rejoicing in Jesus, giving Him my thanks and my worries, He transforms my selfish and harsh actions into gentle and loving responses to others.
The key is looking to Jesus continually. When impatience and selfishness come out of me, it’s obvious that I’ve not been looking to Him. As the new school year starts and I’m reorganizing my life with new rhythms. I’m not looking for ways to be more gentle, but I am looking for practices that help me continually be rejoicing in the Lord and turning to Him in every situation. I can trust Him to bring the gentleness.
"And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV).
What is an area of your life that needs transformation?
Do you have practices in your life that help you contemplate God’s glory?
What can you put in place this week to help you turn your thoughts to rejoicing in the Lord and praying with thanksgiving?