Philippians 4:5 says, “let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand” (NKJV). The word is translated as “gentle spirit” in the NASBU, “gentleness” in the NKJV and “reasonableness” in the ESV is from ἐπιεικές.
Lenski comments on the word,
“sweet gentleness, considerateness, Lindigkeit (Luther’s beautiful rendering) must ever emanate from us so that all men with whom we come in contact may get to realize, feel, and appreciate it….Trench is a good teacher: the derivation is from εἴκω, ἔοικα, Latin cedo, hence the meaning is “yielding,” not insisting on one’s legal rights as these are often inserted into moral wrongs by making the summum jus the summa injuria. The word always refers to the treatment of others while “meekness” is an inner quality” (R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians and to the Philippians (Columbus, O.: Lutheran Book Concern, 1937), 875).
Wouldn’t it be great if only we could treat one another this way? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were treated this way?
Why would we want to be anything other than gentle? Hostility, vengeance, and anger only cause more pain. Personal problems are never resolved by introducing more pain. However, we can choose to behave as Jesus–gently.
After all, this is the way God chooses to treat us.
God and Christ exhibit what is meant. God deals so leniently with men, he remembers that we are dust, he withholds justice so long. Christ is gentle, kind, patient, more than only fair. (R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians and to the Philippians (Columbus, O.: Lutheran Book Concern, 1937), 876).
We also are gentle or yielding toward all because we know that Jesus may return at any moment. “The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5 NASB). If we are to plead for mercy from God, then we must also demonstrate mercy toward others before God. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you.”
Matthew 25:45 gives us a tremendous principle. Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of these least, ye did it not unto me.” When we treat others well, God views it as though we were treating him well. If we treat others poorly, God views it as though we were treating him poorly.
Let us be gentle. Sweetly yielding to others in order to improve their lives and bless our own.