“Let your gentleness be known to everyone...”
~Philippians 4:5 (NRSV)
Joy, gentleness, and peace are loosely linked together in early Philippians chapter 4. These three, as a unit, are the best combatants against anxiety; whether it’s propagated from within us or it’s generated from our external worlds.
The interesting thing is when we practice gentleness we become known for our gentleness. In other words, when we lavish gentleness upon ourselves, being our best advocate, we tend to be advocates for others, and we are gentler with them, too. Being our best advocate is simply agreeing with God—who is a better advocate than the Spirit of Advocacy?
Linking Joy, Gentleness, And Peace
What appears to be a loose arrangement in Philippians 4:4-7—regarding rejoicing in the Lord, being gentle, and relieving anxiety through prayer—can be seen as something that is interdependently related.
When we are at joy from within, rejoicing in the Lord, which is possible anytime, we have a forbearing spirit, and gentleness becomes us, for we have no anger—just praise. When we see everything about us through this lens, our anxiety melts, as it transforms into peace; then our faith is justified.
Joy, gentleness, and peace, then, are a cord of three strands. They work for those who work for righteousness. They work for those who work for a bond of peace. Bound together, these three produce a tight unity that is not easily undone.
As Gentleness Ripples Outward
If we cannot be gentle with ourselves, we cannot be gentle with others. If we cannot be gentle with the precious material that consists us, we cannot be gentle with the precious material that consists other people, either.
This is why it is biblically important that our gentleness starts from within.
When our gentleness starts from within it echoes out, impacting others’ lives in patience and kindness and compassion. This is how we become known for our gentleness; by being gentle, first of all, with ourselves. By being patient with ourselves, and kind, and compassionate, we experience the grace of God.
And what is interesting is this rippling effect. As the body, mind, and soul experience the gentleness of the Spirit of God, glorying in the Presence of the divine nature, the joy and peace experienced must, as a natural progression, tend outward. It cannot be contained. This is where love operates magnificently, abounding by the grace of God into others’ lives.
Perhaps the biggest mistake we can make is not being gentle enough with ourselves. We may be quick to condemn. Are we so quick to allow God to soothe our souls? When we practice gentleness we become known for our gentleness.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.