“Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.”
Typically, we see the word moderation and we think of avoiding excesses in our lives. When something or someone is in the middle of two extremes, we say it is moderate. In politics, a moderator is someone who is not completely in line with the agenda of his/her own party affiliation, but they tend to support policies on both sides. If the weather man says temperatures will moderate in the next few days, that means temperatures have been above or below normal, and they are going to get back to the middle somewhere. If I say I am a moderate drinker, I may have one or two drinks a day and not get drunk at all.
But Paul is not talking about moderation that way. The word translated moderation here is the Greek word epieikes. In every other instance this is used in the New Testament, it is translated “gentle”. Other modern translations take this verse and come up with “Let your gentle spirit be known unto all men”. We will use that translation for our study.
Paul is urging the Philippians to show their self-restraint and patience in their dealings with one another. What a valuable lesson for all of us. I believe they used the word moderation in the King James because to do what Paul is asking, they had to moderate from hard fast rules of the church too allow for new converts as they learned the right path. Think about it for a minute. When you first got saved, were you instantly free of all your sinful ways? Did you take up all Christian values right away? Not me!
I got saved in Iowa, and traveled back to my home state of Massachusetts a day after that took place. I had no one to tell me what I should be doing now that I had accepted Christ. I knew I should be going to church, so I went back to the Congregational Church (UCC) I grew up in. My mom had been the church secretary for years, and everyone knew who I was. But I was now a hippie – long hair, known around town for drugs and trouble. When I walked in that church, heads turned for sure.
I started reading my bible because I heard on the 700 Club that you should read the Bible through in a year, so I set out to do that. I started visiting with the Pastor once a week during lunch to discuss this new-found Christianity. I went to church every Sunday, sang in the choir, got involved in some other things, and seemed to be doing good. But on my own time, I was still drinking and doing drugs. I had problems.
The point I am trying to make is that a new Christian must be given time to learn what a Christian should be in total. We must allow them to grow at their own pace, with words of encouragement along the way. Remember, they are mere babes in Christ. Just because they don’t grow at the pace we would like them to does not mean that they are any less a Christian than we are.
And why should we be gentle with them? Because the Lord is at hand! We do not want them to turn back on their faith. Our goal is to bring as many people into the kingdom as possible before the Lord returns. If we are too demanding, we will lose the babes and frighten away anyone else who might be on the edge. So le’s allow our moderation to be known – it’s a soul winning proposition.