|Volume 22 Number 9 September 2020||
Concern for souls, in and out of the kingdom, should never generate rudeness or ungodly attitudes or bad behavior. You can be firm without being mean; you can be sound without being caustic. Balance.
This kind of balance is not an accident. It is not a decision to be a “middle-of-the-roader” or a weak, wimpy Christian. It is instead a conscious decision to be the kind of Christian that God wants us to be. Perhaps the best way to understand this concept is to examine the biblical terms “epieikes” (adj., seeming, suitable; equitable, fair, mild, gentle) and “epieikeia” (noun, mildness, gentleness, fairness).
You are probably familiar with the KJV rendering in Philippians 4:5 of “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” The term rendered “moderation’’ in this passage is “epieikes.” It is elsewhere translated as “patient” (1 Timothy 3:3 KJV) and gentle (Titus 3:2; James 3:17; 1 Peter 2:18 KJV). It also appears as “forbearance” (ASV), “forbearing” (NASB), “gentleness” (NKJV, NIV) and “reasonableness” (ESV). Its use in some contexts might cause us to think of weakness or timidity, but further study reveals something very different.
In 2 Corinthians 10:1, the term refers to “the meekness of Christ as a model for Paul and the community” (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol 2, 599). Christ in this context “is gentle as only one who has full power can be” (Ibid.). This must characterize our own attitude and character as well: gentleness and forbearance as a sign of strength — even under trial. In Philippians 4:5, the term refers to the conscientious restraint that Christians must demonstrate even in the midst of persecution (NDNT, Vol 2, 258). How can this be? Consider how another source defines the term: “the quality of making allowances despite facts that might suggest reason for a different reaction; clemency, gentleness, graciousness, courtesy, indulgence, tolerance” (Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament 371).
What does this mean? It means that even when it might seem that we have good reason to retaliate when we are pushed, we willingly and lovingly choose not to do so. We are gentle and tolerant — indicating not weakness but strength under control.
Christ lived this way perfectly. Though able to call legions of angels to His defense, He suffered “gently” to demonstrate a strength far greater than sheer physical force.
When we are attacked or criticized unjustly, when we are physically beaten for our faith and when we face the inequalities or injustices of this life, the temptation to strike back must be tempered by a willing decision to suffer for righteousness.
Because the Lord is always near, we must let ourselves be known by a gentle spirit. The aorist passive imperative verb in Philippians 4:5 requires a willing surrender that corresponds to our surrender to Christ in the baptism of Acts 2:38. In a very real sense, when we submit to baptism into Christ, we pledge this degree of controlled gentleness for the rest of our lives. That’s the kind of balance for which we stand.
the Word of God #5
Russel G. Bell
The apostle John wrote in John 12:48, “He that rejecteth me [Christ], and receiveth not my sayings, hath one that judgeth him; the word that I spake [New Testament], the same shall judge him in the last day.” We see, then, we will be judged in the last day by the words of Christ or the New Testament.
Jesus further said in John 14:6, “I [Jesus Christ] am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.” This eliminates the teachings of men as well as the Old Testament Law. The only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ or His way, which is stated in the New Testament.
The beginning Bible student as well as the veteran should pay close attention to the Book of Acts in the New Testament, because this is the book of conversions. There are ten cases of conversions in this book, and if you want to know how to be saved, then read this book and follow the examples of these early Christians. Thereby, you will someday live with your Lord. Remember, Jesus is the only way to Heaven, and the New Testament records that way. Don’t you owe it to yourself to read about the way to eternal life?