Like I said last week, we’re taking a slow journey through the end of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. This week, we have Philippians 4:5, which contains this advice:
Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
Seems simple, doesn’t it? I think everyone believes that they’re gentle and kind. If pressed, most people would be able to come up with a whole laundry list of people that they’ve been kind to or helped. With very few exceptions, we’d be ready to pat ourselves on the back and say that we’ve got this, no problem.
But do we really?
Let’s consider who would be on that hypothetical list. I suspect that most of the people on our “kindness lists” would be family or friends, coworkers or people we care about. In other words, we’re kind and gentle to the people we like. At the very least, we’ll be kind and gentle to those we don’t know or don’t like in very controlled ways.
But that’s not what Paul is suggesting here. Notice his wording. Our gentleness is to be known to everyone. No limits. No boundaries. No exceptions.
And that’s a tough piece of advice to swallow.
But it is the Christian way. That’s the point of one of my favorite parables, that of the Good Samaritan. Jesus commends the Samaritan, not just because he was kind and gentle, but because he was kind and gentle to someone who would have regarded him as his enemy.
And Paul even gives us the reason why: The Lord is near. On the one hand, we can chalk this up as a reminder that Jesus will return. But I think we can maybe approach it from a different angle. When we show our gentleness to those around us, they will know that Christ and His love has been present in their lives.
So let us go out and be gentle. May we be the presence of Christ’s love in the lives of everyone.