Most people agree that we find ourselves in a unique time. There is anxiety and fear, loud thoughts and views, and pressure to pick a “side”. How do we anchor ourselves in tumultuous times?
I have been spending some time in a passage that feels too familiar. I memorized Phil. 4:4-8 in college, and go back to it often. But sometimes, familiarity causes the impact to diminish. The power and beauty of the passage becomes normalized.
I have been using the lexicon on Biblehub (a tool more simple than most realize) to bring out the fullness and complexity of the original language.
“Let your gentleness be evident to all.”
Gentleness. Feels non-confrontational, which is exactly where I like to live. Always supportive and encouraging (and therefore liked), regardless of whether a person’s views or actions are detrimental or misaligned.
The Lexicon adds the following color to this word:
properly, equitable; “gentle” in the sense of truly fair by relaxing overly strict standards in order to keep the “spirit of the law.”
Fair. Or as the ESV states, “reasonable.” Instead of having unreasonable and strict applications, grasp the heart of the law. Grasp God’s heart behind the restrictions or guidelines. Understand that God desires to protect our greatest joys. Steer the conversation towards a “Sermon on the Mount” feel instead of legalistic judgment.
Yet the Sermon on the Mount is confrontational. It is uncomfortable and challenging. It fights for truth. And yet it is refreshing because it is fair and graceful. It calls us to a higher standard for our own betterment.
There is still a tenacity within the gentleness. But instead of condemning, our conversations are inspiring. Instead of judgmental, we are challenging. Instead of truth with volume, it is truth with genuine love.
This middle space is hard to grasp. How do we have conviction and passion balanced with understanding and love? How do we invite and challenge others to something more without condemnation and judgment?
How do we, as Christ-followers, let our gentleness be evident to all in such a polarizing culture?