Passage of the Day : Philippians 4: 5 - [see underlined] 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let Your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
My Journal for Today: In our look at “humility” this month, we’ve been looking at it as a reflection of Christlikeness, … Christ, … who was/is our perfect model of humility. However, in today’s passage/verse, Paul shows a shade of Christlikeness and humility which takes us deeply into the trenches of everyday life. He challenges the believer to exhibit the Christlike quality of “gentleness,” MacArthur citing exposing this quality from Phil. 4: 5 (from the NIV). That’s a quality which, like humility, runs counter to our culture, and which supports/promotes Christlike control, strength, and power. And remember Matt. 11: 29, which reveals Jesus using those two qualities, of HUMILITY (or lowliness of heart) and MEEKNESS (or gentleness), as the only two descriptive adjectives He ever used in Scripture to describe Himself.
This term, “gentleness,” in the NIV is the Greek word, “epieikes,” which is a difficult word to bring into the English translation for our Bible. One can see this difficulty of translation because of the many ways it’s translated. In the NAS, it’s having a “forebearing spirit.” The KJV has it translated “moderation;” and the NLT renders it “considerate.” Yet, in today’s NIV version it’s translated “gentleness” and in others it could be “meekness.” Obviously, English speaking Bible Scholars have had a challenge in finding an accurate and generic translation for this Greek concept, “epieikes.”
From what I can get from commentaries and John MacArthur’s devotional, Strength for Today, “epieikes” seems to convey the idea, for the Christian, of consideration of the feelings of others, drawing the strength to do that from God’s grace. Another angle would be having a patience or forbearance in the context of a believer having been mistreated or maligned unjustly, which was certainly modeled by Jesus during His Passion and crucifixion; as it was certainly modeled by 1st Century Christians under the tyranny of Nero standing in faith and meekness as they were tortured for that very faith. Christ manifested God’s grace ALWAYS, even unto death for our sins – certainly not for His sins - (see Rom. 5: 6 – 11 - linked here). Therefore, according to Paul, speaking on this one attribute, “epieikes,” we, as His followers, should strive as much as we can to be forbearing in love and consideration of the feelings of others; … yes, even when we’re unjustly attacked.
Our world and culture, however, certainly do not preach or value “epieikes” as a life quality to display openly in our socio-political choices. We are touted today to demand our “rights,” based on our individual feelings. That’s the existentialism of the post-modern 21st century, where “if it feels good, do it [!]” is the battle cry. Also there is almost an “anti-epieikes” mantra to become #1 at the expense of the feelings of anyone who might stand in the way. Control, … CONTROL, … CONTROL!!
So, how must we be like our Lord in the sense of “epieikes?” Well, to set ourselves in the right – and righteous – direction we have to ask ourselves as Christians …
• Am I holding any grudges or bitterness in my heart?
• Do I lash out with selfish anger when attacked or maligned?
• Am I a light of Christlike “epieikes” in a darkened world self-driven situational ethics?
If we cannot give an unqualified “NO” to the first two, and a hearty “YES” to that last question, we need TO DECIDE to fulfill Christ’s mandate of Matt. 5: 16 (and I would hope that you have that one memorized – but here it is below) …
SCRIPTURE: [Jesus from Matt. 5: 16] “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
And paramount in those “good deeds” ought to be an attitude and lifestyle if “epieikes.”
My Prayer Today: Lord, cut away all that is not Christlike “epieikes” from my being; and help me to shine Your light of meekness or gentleness into the world through my choices this very day. Amen