"Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything." Philippians 4:5-6
You have probably known that person who can walk into a room filled with angst or tension and their presence immediately brings a calming effect.
By the same token, you may also know a person who can walk into a calm room and put the room on edge.
Which is most true of you?
In this verse Paul calls you to be contagiously calm Christian.
The Greek word used for "gentleness" is translated to describe a temperament that is seasoned and mature. It envisions an attitude that is fitting to the occasion, levelheaded and tempered. A contagiously calm person is steady, evenhanded and fair. It looks objectively and reasonably at the facts of a case. Such a person is antithetical to one who over-reacts or panics in most situations.
The Amplified Version renders it like this: "Let your gentle [your graciousness, unselfishness, mercy, tolerance, and patience] be known to all people. The Lord is near."
Max Lucado puts it this way, "A contagiously calm person is the one who reminds others, 'God is in control.'"
The Bible reveals the Lord was always present with his people:
He was with Abram - "After this, the word of the came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, AbramGenesis 15:1
There is no doubt Abram had some low moments when he doubted if God was still with him. He panicked a time or two. But, in fact, God never did leave him or forsake him. And by the time Abram became Abraham he had become assured of God's presence and displayed a contagious calm.
He was with Hagar - " Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink." Genesis 21:17-19
Hagar and Ishmael bore the brunt of one the panic-stricken moments in Abram's life. She was put out of the camp at Sara's demand and left to fend for herself and her infant son in the barren desert. There God sent His angel to remind her of His presence and provision. Imagine the calming effect that had!
He was with Isaac - "That night the appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.” Genesis 26:24
Isaac had witnessed God's faithfulness to his father, Abraham over the years and now God appeared to him with the calm assurance He would be with Isaac as well.
He was with Joshua - "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Joshua was stepping into some pretty big shoes, er, sandals. He was being called by God to do what Moses had not been able to do - lead God's people into the Promised Land. So, before he took the job God spoke to Joshua to remind him and assure him that He would be near him every step of the way.
He was with the Psalmist - "The is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The is with me; he is my helper. Psalm 118:6–7
The Psalmist had a rolled coaster of emotions during his walk with God. He enjoyed numerous exhilarating moments with God but also a few deep and desperate lows when God seemed absent or distant.
Here are a couple of assurances given to ALL of God's people:
Jesus’ name "Immanuel" means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23 NIV).
At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus promised, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” Matthew 28:20 NIV
How can I know this contagious calm these Bible heroes knew?
How can I live a life free of crippling anxiety?
Paul gives a clue in this verse! In his many stressful and anxious ministry moments he would hold onto this comforting fact, "The Lord is near!"
That powerful reminder of the Lord's presence calmed him in the deep, dark and damp prison or marooned on the high sea for nearly two days!
Do you need a calm that can become contagious?
Your gentleness will be the evidence you know the Lord is near!