Let your forbearance be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
—Philippians 4:5 ASV, NIV, CSB
You can learn what God looks for in your life by studying His Word. I love to compare different translations to gain understanding. In these three different translations of Philippians 4:5, we are called to exhibit a quality in our lives so that people know to whom we belong. This quality is translated as forbearance, gentleness, and graciousness in these three different versions.
Forbearance is “refraining from the enforcement of something (as a debt, right, or obligation) that is due” (2017 Merriam-Webster). If I have forbearance, I am patient, and have self-control. I show restraint when I feel that I am right. I refrain from exercising that right or collecting what is due, because God has called me to have mercy.
Some synonyms for gentleness are mildness, calmness, and tenderness. If I have gentleness, I am calm when faced with someone who doesn’t share my point of view. I may know I am right in that instance, but I have no need to prove it. I know that God takes care of what I can’t. I know that my attitude in a situation can either speak hope or despair. If I place someone on the defensive by trying to prove something, then they come back swinging. They will not listen. Their hearts and minds are closed. But if I live my faith without accusation or expectation, the Holy Spirit can encourage life.
Other words for graciousness are diplomacy and cordiality. Am I courteous? Am I careful in what I say and how I react? Do I listen with the open ear of the Holy Spirit? Do I extend grace in situations where none is extended to me? Do I make my life about others instead of myself? Isn’t that the bottom line? My life is not my own. I live it for the sake of others—so that in laying down my rights, they may see the Holy Spirit that guides and empowers my life.
I have learned that forbearance, gentleness, and graciousness translate as Holy Spirit power under His control in my life. I have self-control because He is in control. I seek these qualities. I choose to add them, and He empowers my choices. He gives freedom to not prove or claim my rights. I learn His love that didn’t demand His own. He chose Calvary. He is near, and I choose Him.
© 2017 Lynn Lacher