by Ken Green
“Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4:5 ESV).
“Let’s be reasonable, shall we?” We don’t usually say (or hear) those words till we’re in a conflict that has escalated well beyond reasoning.
Paul says we should be known for being reasonable. It starts with rejecting unreasonableness and embracing reason. A reasonable mind is much more likely to possess peace and joy. In fact, a good, working synonym for “reasonableness” is “gentleness” as used in the NKJV. For many of us, gentleness isn’t natural. It’s the pure product of the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us. And it’s a very good thing.
Gentleness is not unnecessarily rigorous. We see people with veins pounding in their foreheads, and making demands or letting off steam, upset often beyond what the situation rightly allows. They are unnecessarily rigorous and often unreasonable.
When Paul coaches us: “Let your reasonableness [or gentleness] be known to everyone,” he means we shouldn’t be unnecessarily rigorous where a perceived right is the issue. These are some of the key phrases in an unreasonable rant: “I deserve better.” “I am not going to let you.” “I have a right.” “It’s not fair that . . . ”
Reasonableness or gentleness doesn’t exert its rights. You don’t always have to have your rights or demand your way or set the record straight. You don’t need to go around stamping out every false report. Be reasonable.
A reasonable person can yield to better information and good advice. Some of us have to work hard at this. If we’re thinking doggedly of something from one angle and a better approach is suggested, can we yield to it?
Reasonable people can be reasoned with. They can change their opinions based on new information and graciously concede that it is a better solution. Think of how much peace of mind you could have if you always yielded to better information. Consider how much unrest and conflict flows from stubbornly, unreasonably insisting on your own way.
And why should we let our “reasonableness be known to everyone”? Consider the biblical reason: “The Lord is at hand.” He is coming . . . soon! And we’re to live our temporal lives in light of this eternal reality. When the skies break open, we don’t want to be tied in knots over things that are ultimately insignificant. Let’s be reasonable, shall we?