Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. –Philippians 4:5 (NIV)
“Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.”
Have you noticed how much anger, stress and hurry there is today? When e-mail was introduced in the 1990’s, it was heralded as a way to save time and work. “You don’t have to write out an address, look for a stamp or wait for the mailman!” we were promised. But now, how many of us feel like we’re drowning in unread emails? Social media was promised to “bring us all together in supportive new communities!” But how much rancor, division and jealousy has it spawned?
In contrast to our culture, the Bible tells us “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” Some other translations reword the original Greek as:
- “Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do.” (NLT)
- “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.” (ESV)
- “Let your gentle spirit be known to all people.” (NASB)
The Bible then explains this calm attitude is possible thanks to the second half of the verse. “The Lord is near.” If we live with the awareness that God is near and in control, that can help us face our lives and world with an even-tempered spirit. When we find ourselves falling into despair, anger, or feelings of being overwhelmed, that can be a reminder to us that we’re not aware of God’s presence and are trying to live lives in our own strength – something we were never designed to do.
As the old saying goes: “If you feel like God is far away, He didn’t move. You did.”
A youthful Benjamin Franklin had the goal to experience, “Tranquility – be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.” So many things we face day by day are actually normal occurrences. We can handle them more readily if we just face them calmly and deal with them one by one, rather than blowing a gasket or obsessing or feeling sorry for ourselves.
Author and Bible teacher Chuck Swindoll explains it this way in “Attitude.”
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.
And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”
Each day, ask God to give you an attitude of tranquility as you face the ups and downs of life. How else can you apply this truth to your life today?
This is Part 11 of a 13-Part series, based on 13 virtues that Benjamin Franklin sought to incorporate into his daily life, each of which has a scriptural basis. Franklin began this system in 1726, when he was incredibly only 20 years old. He realized that, since each year has 52 weeks, one can repeat this series four times annually. A chart like the one Franklin designed to help one mark one’s progress can be found here.