“Be completely…gentle; be patient” (Ephesians 4:2b).
The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:1-3 listed five key Christian lifestyle practices. To live “completely humble” is the first lifestyle key that was covered in the previous column. In this column we will cover the second and third lifestyle keys — to “be completely gentle and be patient.”
The English word gentle is the Greek word praotes in Ephesians 4:2. Paul used praotes to communicate that a Christian is a person who is mild in temperament or behavior, a person who is kind or tender to other people, a person who is never harsh or severe to another person.
As Christians we are to be gentle in the ways we treat other members of the Christian community. As Christians we are also to be gentle to every non-Christian.
We are to be gentle to visitors in the worship service, be gentle to our neighbors, be gentle to fellow employees and supervisors at work, and be gentle to people in our community.
Simply put, we Christians are to be gentle to every person we meet.
Paul further urged Christians to “be patient’ with the Greek word makrothumia. This word is sometimes used to communicate a person’s confidence that he or she will be victorious in life even if now the person is having a difficult time.
Makrothumia is more often used to describe a person’s slowness in retaliating when hurt by another person. Paul used makrothumia to describe God’s patience with humanity (Romans 2:4; 9:22; 1Timothy 1:16).
Paul says Christians have the power to take revenge against another person but they are to follow God’s patience spirit to refuse to retaliate.
So we Christians are to be patient with fellow Christians who are weak in the faith. We are to be patient with fellow Christians with whom we disagree. We are to be patient with non-Christians so we can lead them to become Christians.
Yes, Paul urges us to be effective Christians by living completely humble, gentle and patient.
Frank Fain is director of educational services at The Baptist Home in Arcadia Valley, Mo. The 55+ Adults column is a regular feature of the print edition of Word & Way.
See the entire Lifestyle Keys series: