“Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.”
“Let your gentleness be known”
Forbearance means to think grace toward other people. It means to have a gracious mental attitude. A person who thinks grace will not treat people on the basis of what they deserve. If we did, we would be in conflict very quickly. We will constantly knock heads with other people.
Gentleness was a trait of Christ’s character:
“Now I, Paul, myself and pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ . . .” (2 Cor 10:1).
It is the third of the qualities of God’s wisdom in James 3:17:
“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”
It is a characteristic of a Christian leader (2 Tim 3:3).
The word “known” means having experiential knowledge. Let this forbearance manifest itself in your experience. Don’t hide it; let it out, advertise it. Be noted for your forbearance. May everyone know that the characteristic of your life is to give deference to others. This is foreign to the way the world operates. It may shock them if they see it.
“I don’t mind working in that department, but I won’t work with her.” “I’ll work here, but I won’t work with him. He is too sticky. He wears his feelings on his sleeve.” If you are the kind of person whom people must carry around on a pillow because you bruise easily, you are a baby Christian.
“to all men”
It is one thing to release our rights to some people, but it is another thing to relinquish them to “all men.” A spirit that does not demand its own way disarms others. Most people in our day believe in the strong arm, the power to influence. Non-Christians can be agreeable if, if, if they have their own way. If you cross him—look out. Sad to say, many Christians act just like them.
God wants us to make known to others our attitude of giving deference to other people.
Deference is a gracious mental attitude. Are you a reasonable person? Maybe you are an obstinate individual? A “forbearing” person is fair and goes beyond the letter of the law. The grace of giving up one’s rights for a greater cause will resolve conflict in the church. Someone took the initiative. Someone was willing to yield for the sake of the ministry. Are we willing to look at a problem from the other person’s point of view? Are we willing to give up our rights out of deference and love? This is the exact opposite of the contention and self-seeking of Euodia and Syntyche. They reacted to each other in a harsh way.