Philippians 4:5 “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”
“Gentleness” may seem a strange virtue to bring up in this context of remembering Jesus imminent return, “The Lord is near.” Just what does Paul mean? Gentleness is so much more than being quiet and mild. It is a kind way of treating others even if that is not the treatment we have been receiving. It takes a moderate, self-controlled, reasoned approach to dealing with the people around us instead of flying off the handle or meeting insult with insult. We yield to them, perhaps sacrificing what serves us to serve them.
In the gospels Jesus once spoke of us becoming servants and slaves to each other, and that may lead to the same kind of behavior Paul is describing here. But that does not mean our identity is nothing more than a slave. I find it interesting the Greeks considered this gentleness a virtue of good kings. Just because the king knew who he was, and he was secure in his power, he could be calm and gentle in dealing with his people. He could even yield to them at times without fear that he was losing something.
Scripture tells us that God made us royalty when he called us to faith. Because Jesus cleansed us of sin and dressed us in the royal robes of his own loving perfection, that is who we are. No one can ever take that away from us, no matter how they treat us. We serve, then, with a certain, humble nobility. As part of the royalty of heaven, we know we have inexhaustible resources, and when we see others in need we want to help them. We are in a position to be kind and gentle to them. Even when the arrogant and proud people of this world walk all over us, we can see how pitiful they really are. They are trying to cover up how small and insignificant they are by themselves. They cannot change the fact that we are members of heaven’s royal court, and we can afford to be gentle and moderate in how we respond to them.
Isn’t that the way that Jesus has treated each of us? He may have come into our world to serve us, even like a slave. But do you ever get the impression that is what Jesus thought he was? He never lost sight of the fact that he is our King. After he humbled himself to wash the disciples’ feet he reminded them, “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am” (John 13:13). Even as he was yielding himself to cross and death to save us all from sin, he defended his royalty to Pontius Pilate, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth” (John 18:37). Just because he is our King he can be so gentle and kind in dealing with us.
And knowing we will soon be enjoying our own royal positions at his return, we can treat others with gentleness as well.