Whenever someone sees the golden arches, he thinks of McDonald’s restaurants. In marketing terms, this is called branding. It is an image-to-value association.
In Philippians 4:5, Paul is seeking to establish the “branding” of the followers of Christ, where each one contributes to the image-making reputation of the church as being one of “gentleness.”
The definition of the term is one “that considerate courtesy and respect for the integrity of others which prompts a person not to be forever standing on his rights” (TDNT).
Paul made his argument for the moral will of God to be obeyed on this basis: “Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness [lit. “magnanimity, sweet reasonableness”] of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you” (1 Cor 10:1).
John MacArthur Jr. describes the translations as offering a wide variety of meanings to this Greek word: “generosity, goodwill, friendliness, charity toward the faults of others, mercy toward the failures of others, indulgence of the failures of others, leniency, bigheartedness, moderation, forbearance and gentleness are some of the different efforts to translate the rich meaning of this word. Perhaps the best corresponding English word is graciousness; the humble graciousness that produces patience to endure injustice, disgrace and mistreatment without retaliation, bitterness, or vengeance. It is contentment” (MacArthur, Philippians, 276).
Every Christian leader must be “gentle” and “peaceable” (1 Tim 3:30; Titus 3:2). As an encouragement to always act in this manner, Paul gives pause for reflection: “The Lord is near.” This phrase has two implications.
First, the Lord is close at hand as an ever-present help in time of need, and He is keenly aware of a believer’s reactions, conduct, and attitudes in every circumstance. The Spirit of God is ever near to give grace.
Second, if He is coming soon, He will make all things right, so we can be patient until then. Are we contributing to this branding of Christ’s followers, or do we want to be seen as the proud, successful, important, arrogant, get-all-that’s-mine, or get-even kind of a person that characterizes the rest of the world?
“Father, You want Your children to treat others fairly in an attitude of meekness and gentleness. May these characteristics be apparent, like a shield, as I interact with others today.”