walk in the word
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand (Philippians 4:5, ESV).
“Let’s be reasonable, shall we?” We don’t usually say (or hear) those words till we’re in a conflict that has escalated well beyond reasoning.
Paul says we should be known for being reasonable. It starts with rejecting unreasonableness and embracing reason. A reasonable mind has peace and joy. In fact, a good, working synonym for “reasonableness” is gentleness, as used in the NKJV. For many of us, gentleness isn’t natural; it’s the pure product of Christ’s sanctification in us. And it’s a very good thing.
Gentleness is not unnecessarily rigorous. With veins pounding in his forehead, the unnecessarily rigorous person demands, “You short-changed me four cents! Why are you robbing me of my change?” To which the reasonable person calmly replies, “First of all, yes, let me give you the right change back, and second, you seem more than four-cents’ upset.” That’s unnecessarily rigorous—more severe than the situation rightly demands.
When Paul coaches us, “Let your reasonableness [or gentleness] be known to everyone,” he means we shouldn’t be unnecessarily rigorous where a perceived right is the issue. These are key phrases in an unreasonable rant:
“I deserve better.”
“I am not going to let you.”
“I have a right.”
“It’s not fair that . . . ”
Reasonableness or gentleness doesn’t exert its rights. You don’t always have to have your rights or demand your way or set the record straight. You don’t need to go around stamping out every false report. Be reasonable.
A reasonable person can yield to better information. Most of us have to work hard at being receptive to this. If we’re thinking doggedly of something from one angle and a better approach is suggested, can we yield to it?
Reasonable people can be reasoned with. They can change their opinions based on new information and graciously concede, “That is a better solution.” Consider how much peace of mind you could have if you always yielded to better information. Consider how much unrest and conflict flows from stubbornly, unreasonably insisting on your own way.
These are everyday, moment-by-moment decisions. Think about the past week or two. The issues over which you may have forfeited your peace of mind already seem, in retrospect, much smaller and simpler to decide. It’s in the moment that we battle our urge to be unreasonable.
And why should we let our “reasonableness be known to everyone”? Consider the biblical reason: “The Lord is at hand.” He is coming . . . soon! And we’re to live our temporal lives in light of this eternal reality. When the skies break open, we don’t want to be tied in knots over things that are ultimately insignificant. Let’s be reasonable, shall we?
Father God, I confess that too often I react unreasonably. I demand my rights and get worked up over insignificant issues. Forgive me. Please show me when I’m being unreasonable, and teach me to yield to reason, moment by moment. Help me to live in light of eternity, knowing You’re coming back soon and much of what seems to matter in the moment really doesn’t. And grow me in gentleness, so that I will be more like your Son. Jesus showed us the perfect model of gentleness: strong and bold on heart issues and gentle and easy-going on trivial matters. He never lost sight of You or of others. Make me more like Him, I pray, in Jesus’ precious name, amen.
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