We're going to talk about moderation, the virtue of moderation. "Let your moderation be known." This comes in the middle of a section here when Paul is giving exhortation to the church.
- Philippians 4:4-8
Among several general exhortations which Paul includes in this last chapter of his epistle to the Philippians, we find the following admonition.
The virtue referred to in this verse is a very important one, and well worth the time in this lesson taking a closer look at it.
Exactly what is moderation? What does it mean to be moderate?
The Nature of Moderation
The definition of Moderation: “The Greek word epi-ei-kei-a is one of the most untranslatable words in Greek…” — Barclay’s Commentary.
You can see that just by looking at the various translations used of it.
- Patience, (Wycliffe)
- Softness, (Tyndale, Cranmer)
- The patient mind, (Geneva Bible)
- Modesty, (Rheims Bible)
- Forbearance, (American Standard Version)
- Sweet Reasonableness, (Matthew Arnold)
- Gentleness, (New King James)
- Reasonableness, (English Standard Version)
- Gentle spirit, (New American Standard Bible)
Even the King James Version translates the same Greek word several ways:
- Titus 3:1-2
- James 3:17
- 1 Peter 2:18
- 1 Timothy 3:3
- Philippians 4:5
A description of the word “Moderation” from Erdman’s Bible Dictionary, "It describes that courtesy and graciousness which should characterize a Christian gentleman," "The term indicates something of “the power of yielding” "The ability to give way to the wishes of others" "The poise of the soul which enables one to sacrifice his own rights, not by necessity, but out of generosity and sympathy" "It is the opposite of stubbornness and thoughtlessness."
William Hendricksen's commentary states:
"The Christian cannot truly be happy without striving to be a blessing to others. Hence Paul says, “Let your big-heartedness be known to everybody.”
"For big-heartedness, one may substitute any of the following: forbearance, yielded-ness, geniality, kindliness, gentleness, sweet reasonableness, considerateness, charitableness, mildness, magnanimity, generosity."
All of these qualities are combined in the adjective /noun that is used in the original. Taken together these show the real meaning.
When each of these would-be-English-equivalents is taken by itself alone, it becomes clear that there is not a single word in the English language that fully expresses the meaning of the original.
We see also that this word, this idea, was embodied in the man Jesus Christ.
- 2 Corinthians 10:1
Here the Greek word, epieikeia, is coupled with the Greek word, prautes, or meekness. Some consider that the ideas of equity and justice which are essential to the meaning, [of epieikeia] do not adequately express it in English.
"In contrast with prautes ("meekness"), which is more especially a temperament or habit of mind, epieikeia expresses an active dealing with others." — Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
It's like meekness is an internal virtue, that is expressed in moderation, gentleness, patience. It is expressed in this concept that we're looking into, in moderation.
The Display of Moderation
A Personal Quality of All Christians
It is to be a personal quality of all Christians. Notice that Paul says “Let YOUR moderation...” ALL Christians are to display this virtue.
- Titus 3:1-2
A Personal Quality of All Christians - Elders
Elders especially must display this virtue.
- 1 Timothy 3:3
A Personal Quality of All Christians - Teachers
- 2 Timothy 2:24-26
A Personal Quality of All Christians - Heavenly Wisdom
For good reason, for it is a part of that “heavenly wisdom” which comes from above.
- James 3:17
A Personal Quality of All Christians - Fruit of the Spirit
Those who exhibit the “fruit of the spirit” cannot help but display this virtue, for they are “part and parcel” with it.
- Galatians 5:22-23
Moderation is to be On Display for All to See
It is to be known to all men. The lesson which Paul teaches is that true blessedness cannot be obtained by the person who rigorously insists on whatever he regards as his just due.
- Philippians 4:5
The Christian is the man who reasons that it is far better to suffer wrong than to inflict wrong.
- 1 Corinthians 6:7
Sweet reasonableness is an essential ingredient to true happiness. Now such big-heartedness, such forbearance, the patient willingness to yield wherever yielding is possible without violating any real principle, must be shown to all, not only to fellow believers.
This is the difficult part of the exhortation. It is easy to be considerate, kind, and gentle toward some persons. There are others, however, toward whom it is difficult to show a spirit of gentleness. The hard task, and the real test, is to display this moderation or "sweet reasonableness” toward all men.
- The unkind
- The thankless
- And even the perverse
The Reason and Motive for Displaying Moderation
“The Lord is at hand…,” Philippians 4:5. This may possibly mean “the Lord is nearby…” or, it could refer to either meeting the Lord at death or at His final coming. Both events are always imminent. He who is our Judge is ever watchful, ever aware of our conduct and treatment of others.
One day we will have to answer to this Judge!
The Danger of Not Displaying Moderation
If we are not gentle in our treatment of others, do we expect Him to be gentle in His treatment of us?
- Matthew 18:21-35
- James 2:13
The display of this virtue has great advantages. It can contribute much to the comfort of life and the peace of society, by reducing friction between people.
How many conflicts start because we miscommunicate with one another. Or, we overreact to things.
- Proverbs 15:1
A soft answer comes from moderation, peaceableness, and gentleness of spirit. It can turn away wrath.
- Romans 12:18
We're to do our part, by being meek, showing peace, and seeking to be peaceable, living moderately. We can forebear with one another if we would just express meekness.
It can contribute to promoting the gospel of Christ as we demonstrate by our example the “gentleness” found throughout the gospel message.
Think of the person of Jesus, and all that He went through, the persecution, backbiting, lying, and beatings He took, even the crucifixion, displaying this moderation. He was gentle. He was meek.
When we are like that in our lives, people see the quality of Jesus in our lives. That's how we lead others to Christ. If we're harsh, judgemental, we can't lead others to Christ. We have to be a gentle people because “the Lord is at hand.” This implies He may be coming soon. We don't know when, we have to live every moment of our lives as if, He is coming back.
We have to be faithful to Him, and become a child of God through our faith, repentance, confession of His name, and baptism into His death. Like as He died, and was buried and raised from the dead, we too raise from baptism to walk a new life, following His example in newness of life. And live a life letting your moderation be known to all men.
If we can assist you in learning more about moderation, and how it is to be displayed in the life of a Christian, please contact us.