"THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS"
The Virtue Of Gentleness (Ph 4:5)
1. Among several general exhortations which Paul includes in this last
chapter of his epistle to the Philippians, we find the following
"Let your gentleness (moderation,KJV) be known be known to
all men. The Lord is at hand." - Ph 4:5
2. The virtue referred to in this verse is a very important one, and well
worth the time in this lesson taking a closer look at it.
[We begin by noticing...]
I. THE NATURE OF THIS VIRTUE
A. DEFINITION OF "GENTLENESS"... (from Barclay)
1. The word epi-ei-kei-a is one of the most untranslatable words in
2. The difficulty can be seen by the various translations given it:
a. Patience (Wycliffe)
b. Softness (Tyndale, Cranmer)
c. The patient mind (Geneva Bible)
d. Modesty (Rheims Bible)
e. Forbearance (Revised Version)
f. Moderation (King James Version)
g. Sweet Reasonableness (Matthew Arnold)
B. DESCRIPTION OF "GENTLENESS"... (from Erdmans)
1. It describes that courtesy and graciousness which should
characterize a Christian gentleman
2. The term indicates something of "the power of yielding"
a. The ability to give way to the wishes of others
b. The poise of soul which enables one to sacrifice his own
rights, not by necessity, but out of generosity and sympathy
3. It is the opposite of stubbornness and thoughtlessness
4. It was embodied in the man Jesus Christ - cf. 2 Co 10:1
C. "GENTLENESS", THEN... (as defined by Pulpit Commentary)
1. Is the opposite of contention, rigor and severity
2. Is the spirit that enables a man to bear injuries with patience,
and not demand all that is rightly his due, for the sake of
3. A good example of where this virtue is to be applied is seen in
1 Co 6:1-7 (note the willingness to be defrauded enjoined by
the apostle Paul)
[Perhaps with a better grasp of the nature of this virtue,
let's now examine...]
II. THE DISPLAY OF THIS VIRTUE
A. IT IS TO BE A PERSONAL QUALITY OF ALL CHRISTIANS...
1. Notice that Paul says "Let YOUR gentleness..."
2. Elders especially must display this virtue - 1 Ti 3:3
3. So also should teachers - 2 Ti 2:24-26 (not the same word used
here, but the same idea)
4. Indeed, ALL Christians are to display this virtue - Ti 3:1-2
5. For good reason, for it is a part of that "heavenly wisdom"
which comes from above - Ja 3:17
B. IT IS TO BE KNOWN TO ALL MEN...
1. This is the difficult part of the exhortation
a. It is easy to be considerate, kind, and gentle toward some
b. There are others, however, toward whom it is difficult to
show a spirit of gentleness
2. The hard task, and the real test, is to display this
"gentleness" or "sweet reasonableness" toward...
a. The unkind
b. The thankless
c. The perverse
[But as we continue on with our text, there is good reason to do so...]
III. THE REASON AND MOTIVE FOR DISPLAYING THIS VIRTUE
A. "THE LORD IS AT HAND"...
1. This may possibly mean "the Lord is nearby"
2. Or it could refer to either meeting the Lord at death or at His
final coming, both events are always imminent!
3. He who is our Judge is ever watchful, ever aware of our conduct
and treatment of others
4. One day we will have to answer to this Judge!
B. THE DANGER OF NOT DISPLAYING "GENTLENESS"...
1. If we are not gentle in our treatment of others, do we expect
Him to be gentle in His treatment of us?
2. Remember the "Parable Of The Unforgiving Servant"? - Mt 18:21-35
3. Also, James warning in Ja 2:13
1. The display of this virtue has great advantages...
a. It can contribute much to the comfort of life and the peace of
society, by reducing friction between people - e.g., Pr 15:1
b. It can contribute to promoting the gospel of Christ (as we
demonstrate by our example the "gentleness" found throughout the
2. Are we a "gentle people"? May we ever be, for "the Lord is at hand"!
Speaking of the Lord being at hand, are you living a life pleasing to
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