Let Your Gentleness Be Known to All Men (Phil 4:5)

We are going to be going to Philippians 4:5 in just a minute. I want to setup a sermon on gentleness and to do that I want you to think about the opposite. Think about anger.

People today still have murder (anger) in their heart. Take for example this classified ad:

Wedding dress for sale, never worn.

Will trade for .38 caliber pistol.

Preaching magazine, March–April 1993[1]

Thomas Jefferson believed, “When angry count to ten, if very angry count to a hundred.” Mark Twain said, “When angry count to four, if very angry swear.”

Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations[2]

There is a lot of anger going around right now, isn’t there? There is worry, anxiety, frustration, mistrust, violence, and the response is likely anger. But you know what I think is disarming? Gentleness. Gentleness is disarming.

We are in a short sermon series on Phil. 4:4-8:

Last week, we talked about Rejoicing in the Lord Always (Phil 4:4).

Today, Let Your Gentle Spirit Be Known to All Men (Phil 4:5).

September 6, 2020: Be Anxious for Nothing, Instead Pray (Phil 4:6).

September 13, 2020: How to Have the Peace of God (Phil. 4:7).

September 20, 2020: Think on These Things (Phil. 4:8).

Let’s read Phil. 4:5 and talk about being gentle. My application today is that we would seek to be gentle.

Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.

  1. Seek to have a gentle disposition.
    1. The ESV says “reasonableness,” but it seems that “gentleness” is a better translation (Even John Piper says so).
    2. I must begin by admitting that I am a passionate person. I am generally a passionate person and this is expressed in energy. In this speed I do not do slow very well.
    3. Sometimes this passion is expressed in anything but gentleness. I don’t think that is wrong. But I do think I must be careful that my passion is not perceived as aggressive.
    4. Having said that, I believe that gentleness is disarming.
    5. I don’t want people to feel like they need to walk around on eggshells around me. I want people to know that they can say anything to me and I am not going to fly off the handle.
    6. I think a gentle disposition is something for Christians to seek.
    7. We always want to justify our anger, don’t we?
    8. How many times have I tried to justify my anger saying it was righteous anger.
    9. We may have righteous anger, but it may not be expressed righteously.
    10. Anger, is not healthy. Your blood pressure goes up. Cortisol is released which causes weight gain. We all know that anger is not healthy.
    11. Gentleness is healthy, not only for the individual but for others around him.
    12. The more heated the disagreement, the more our inner steam tank builds to the breaking point; and it is all we can do to keep a level head through the whole explosive episode. This reminds me of the Quaker who owned an ornery cow. Every time he milked her, it was a clash of two wills. This particular morning she was unusually irritable, but he was determined to endure the session without so much as a cross word. As the farmer began to milk her, ol’ Bossy stepped on his foot with all her weight. He struggled silently, groaned a little under his breath, pulled his foot free, then sat back down on the stool. She then swished her tail in his face like a long string whip. He merely leaned away so it wouldn’t be able to reach him. Next she kicked over the bucket, by then half-full of warm milk. He started over, mumbling a few words to himself; but he never lost his cool. Once finished with the ordeal, he breathed a sign of relief, picked up the bucket and stool, and as he was leaving she hauled off and kicked him against the barn wall twelve to fifteen feet away. That did it. He stood to his feet, marched in front of his cow, stared into those big eyes, and as he shook a long bony finger in her face, he shouted, “Thou dost know that I am a Quaker. Thou dost know also that I cannot strike thee back … but I can sell thee to a Presbyterian!” —Clyde Murdock, A Treasury of Humor[3]
    13. Paul calls us to be gentle.
    14. I believe that the more I respond to my children with gentleness now, the better our disagreements will be later.
    15. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a time to respond with force. Of course, one has to raise their voice to get attention occasionally, or for emphasis, or some other reason. But our pattern should be gentleness.
    16. In Gal. 5:22-23 gentleness is the second from the last of the fruit of the spirit.
    17. This means that a sign of being a Christian is being gentle.
  2. Now, let’s talk more about this passage in context.
    1. Paul tells them to be gentle, or let their gentleness be known to all. Again, Paul doesn’t say let people know you are gentle when things are going well, and people are nice to you. No, let your gentleness be known to all.
    2. This gentleness may be exactly why Paul could be a good witness.
    3. Again, the Philippians have faced persecution, how could he ask them this. Several reasons:
    4. Matthew 5:44: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
    5. Matthew 5:11: Jesus says that we are blessed when persecuted for Him.
    6. Acts 5:41 the people leave after being persecuted rejoicing that they could suffer for Christ.
    7. But I believe Paul gives one of the best reasons at the end of this verse. Paul says the Lord is near. This can mean one of two things or both.
      1. Either the Lord’s second coming is close.
      2. Or, the Lord is near in Spirit.
    8. Jesus is with us always through the church. The Holy Spirit is within us.
    9. If Jesus’ second coming is near that means that judgment is near. This means Paul is saying, “Be kind to them even when they persecute you. Their judgment is near.”
    10. Either way they had hope. The Lord was near to them. They were not alone. The Holy Spirit was with them.
    11. Also, this idea of gentleness fits the rest of the letter of Philippians.
    12. In Phil. 2:3-11, Paul told them to have the attitude of Christ. They were told to consider others more important than themselves. They were to look upon others needs before their own.
    13. In Phil. 2:14, they were exhorted to do all things without grumbling or complaining.
    14. In Phil. 3, Paul talked about giving up all his worldly achievements for Of course, Jesus was known as gentle.
    15. The idea of gentleness is throughout the New Testament: 1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 3:2; James 3:17; 1 Peter 2:18; 2 Cor. 10:1
    16. But I believe their help is in the next two verses. Paul has told them to rejoice always, Paul has told them to be gentle to everyone, but how? Through prayer with thanksgiving. We are going to talk about that in the coming weeks. For now, let’s apply.
  • Apply
    1. To be gentle must mean that I pray about this often.
    2. We must be gentle to all people, even when it is not easy.
    3. If we have issues with anger, and rage, we must get help now.
    4. We must repent when we are not gentle with people.
    5. We must seek to be gentle, not only in volume, but mannerisms and words.
    6. To be gentle may mean that watch for triggers that prevent us from being gentle. Maybe sometimes we overfill our schedule, and we are too rushed, and then when things go wrong we get angry.
    7. To be gentle, we must learn to let go of things that we cannot control.
    8. During this COVID crisis many are worried and angry over things which we cannot control. We must let them go. We must turn them over to the Lord.
    9. To be gentle, we must turn our worries over to God in prayer (next verse).
    10. We must pray about this with our family, friends, and church family. We must link up with the church for help being gentle (Prov 27:17; Ecc 4:12).
    11. We must see this as important.


When I was in high school youth group there was a young man a few years behind me. He was a good person. He came from a very strong family. His parents owned a business and sent him to a Christian school. He liked to hunt and planned to go to college to major in forestry. I graduated and we lost touch. However, after a few years I heard about him. He was in college and got in an argument with his girlfriend. He was filled with rage and he stabbed her to death with a pin knife. He was released on parole. My younger brother went fishing with him, he was safe to be around, but he had an anger problem. Eventually, he was sent to prison, where I believe he is right now.

Many of us may not have issues like that, or we think we do not have issues like that, but we all must seek gentleness.

We must get control of our anger before something like that happens. But in order to truly get control of our anger, we may need help. Get help.

All of us should seek gentleness. This is the Word of God.



[1] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 33.

[2] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 33.

[3] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 33–34.

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