“Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;” – Philippians 4:5

Buried in plain sight in what is an often-quoted passage among Christians is this short verse in Philippians. We miss it usually because we focus on the verses surrounding it like, “Rejoice in the LORD always and again I will say; Rejoice” or, “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Why is Paul so adamant followers of Jesus, in chaotic cultures and anxious times, let their “reasonableness” be known to everyone? What does this mean?

R.R. Melick writing in the New American Commentary gives us a sense of what “reasonableness” (Greek = epieikes) actually means. “No single word translates epi-eikes well, and commentators consistently insist that the word contains an element of selflessness. The gentle person does not insist on his rights. “It is that considerate courtesy and respect for the integrity of others which prompts a man not to be forever standing on his rights; and it is preeminently the character of Jesus (2 Cor 10:1).[1]

Cross referencing the verse gives us some insight.

James 5:8 “You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

1 Peter 4:7 “The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.”

It is clear, “reasonableness” is crucial and it flows from a heart established and rooted in Christ Jesus. It looks like self-control and sober-mindedness. It is highlighted as important because the coming of the Lord is at hand.

So, is this a passage about anxiety or about thanksgiving? Or, is it a passage about bringing shalom to chaos? “Yes” is probably the answer but let’s not miss the call to let our “reasonableness” be known to everyone in these last days. Sure, the culture we live in is chaotic not unlike the Christian experience in ancient Philippi. Absolutely, these are anxious times. According to Paul our observable response should be “reasonableness” because our hearts are established in Christ and our hope is in His promises.

We are ambassadors for Christ.

Our churches are outposts; embassies of Heaven.

We as individuals are “image-bearers” showing people Jesus.

We bring the peace of Christ to worldly chaos.

I wonder. In these last years here in America, has our “reasonableness” been the thing known to the world about followers of Jesus?

Be careful, brothers and sisters, with your words in person and online.

Be careful, brothers and sisters, with your stand in person and online.

Be quick, brothers and sisters, to hear and obey Jesus.

Be sure, brothers and sisters, to pray with supplication and thanksgiving.

Enjoy, brothers and sisters, walking in the peace of God which surpasses all understanding.

Be glad, brothers and sisters, the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ.

Be sure, brothers and sisters, to let your “reasonableness” be known. The Lord is at hand. Bring the shalom of Jesus to the anxiety of cultural chaos. Be reasonable.

[1] Melick, R. R. (1991). Philippians, Colossians, Philemon (Vol. 32, p. 149). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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