Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.(Philippians 4:5 NKJV)
This verse has intrigued me since I first read it in 1979. This translation has “gentleness” as the quality we are to demonstrate to others as the Day of the Lord approaches. The King James Version has it “moderation.” The Amplified Bible says, “our unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). You get the picture.
In our day, gentleness of spirit is rarely portrayed as a virtue. Indeed, I have heard much sermonizing that in the last day the Church needs to be bold, or powerful, or morally pure, or biblically sound, or musically professional, or technologically savvy, or family friendly, or whatever. In fact, these are not all bad things, but the thing Paul emphasizes to his precious Philippians as the Lord’s return approaches is gentleness. Imagine it on the church sign: “The end of your search for a gentle church.”
As I think about it, I wonder if Paul may have stumbled on a good idea. In an age where contention, consumption, and continual outrage seem to be the norms, I wonder if a group of people who were genuinely gentle, unselfish, forbearing, and considerate would stick out like a healed thumb. Maybe we are not supposed to out-entertain the entertainers, or out-shout the shouters, or out-politic the politicians. Could it be that moral outrage is not our most attractive attribute? This Sunday I may give an altar call for the church to act a little more like the fella that said, “Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” OK, Church, now get out there and be gentle!