Suggested Reading: Psalm 133:1–3
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.—Philippians 4:4
I find it interesting, compelling, and no mere coincidence that Paul would follow his exhortation of Christian duty, regarding holy joy and rejoicing in the Lord, with this line. Does this mean then, reasonableness should also be categorized as Christian duty? That we are to be known and easily identified as those who are reasonable?
This portion of Paul’s letter to the Church in Philippi may have been prompted by his need to address a situation between two very good workers, Euodia and Syntyche, who were also, at one point very good friends and servants of the Lord until they had a disagreement. Their falling out was not only upsetting for everyone but interfered with the congregation’s effectiveness in exhibiting Christian love and unity to an unbelieving community. Even now Paul’s admonishment to them serves a great purpose for us to be reminded that we need to guard ourselves, be careful about our attitude and conduct is viewed by those outside the church and how it disrupts our mission as a Body of Christ to an unbelieving world.
The short definition and biblical understanding of reasonableness is, “thoughtfulness, patience and consideration.” And this is how we are to be known to all and always conduct ourselves, always, in all situations.
I have met my share of unreasonable people over my lifetime. As I am sure you have as well. And can attest to the fact that they are neither pleasant or easy to deal with. There is nothing you can do—except call on the name of the Lord—when you are dealing with someone who refuses to listen to reason, or be reasonable.
The attitude and concept of reasonableness Paul mentions now, is in the Bible already. In fact, all the way back to the Old Testament and books of the prophets we can see the occasions where reasonableness was required in order to attain peace, and maintain peacefulness in relationships between people, family members, and countries. This is a reminder of the great and ongoing need for people who have the gift of mediation, those who are ambassadors of good and good will.
The Apostle James asked in his Epistle (Jas. 4:1-3), “Why do you fight and quarrel? Is it because you want something and can’t have it? Want something so badly you are willing to kill for it?” is it because you refuse to budge from where you are, are unreasonable; want your way and unwilling to compromise, or be reasonable about the situation; meet the other person halfway?
My paraphrase, but that’s the gist of so many of our disagreements. Just as the women Paul wrote about in his letter, who were not getting along, not being reasonable with one another. It is where we find ourselves so much of the time. Not wanting to give up any ground, not wanting to compromise, not wanting to hear the other person’s side of the story. Just as reasonableness is defined as “thoughtfulness, patience and consideration” unreasonableness is defined as,
“someone who is not guided by or based on good sense; an attitude that is completely unreasonable; beyond the limits of acceptably or fairness; refusal to consider other’s feelings, opinions, and thoughts.”
Perhaps we could sum up this definition also, saying unreasonableness is an “ugly, bigoted, an unattractive nature and attitude and certainly not one that promotes Christ or Christlike heart or attitude.”
Praise God, later on, especially due to Paul’s strong counsel Euodia and Syntyche were able to work out their differences and were agreeable once more, which brought a sigh of relief to their faith community. The issue is not whether we will ever have disagreements about an approach, a difference of belief about one matter or another; but a question of how we will handle them when they arise. What side will we be on in the end. Bless the family, workplace, and church that has an abundance of people among them that have a spirit and attitude of reasonableness, always willing to be thoughtful, patient, and considerate with others. Let’s Pray to be those kind of people,
Dear God, in the words of King David from Psalm 133, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers (and sisters) are able to dwell in unity!” It is indeed like oil running down, soothing oil being applied to open wounds, calming words offered in tense situations. Lord, help us to be people who are reasonable; thoughtful, patient and considerate of one another. We are not people of the world who have no common ground or, are unable to come to a place of agreement on matters, work together for a good and godly outcome; but we are those who have your very own spirit, have been made in your image, and received your nature when we were reborn in the waters of Holy Baptism. Bless us Lord with a spirit of reasonableness. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen .