How Do Others See Me?
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. Philippians 4:5
A while back, my wife stopped by my clinic and, while waiting for me, struck up a conversation with a nurse in my department. I entered the conversation halfway, which happened to be about me. Apparently, they found some humor in commiserating about how I can get a little grumpy when I don’t get my way or haven’t eaten enough carbohydrates. It was funny and it was true, but still, it was one of those times when I needed to take an honest look at my own attitude and behavior. Is that how others see me?
I involuntarily categorize people in my mind. If you gave me a name, I could come up with a few adjectives for that person in seconds. Fair or not, I have, based on my previous interactions, an idea in my mind of what that individual is all about. You likely do the same. Just pick someone you know and think about the words you would use to describe that person. Those around us do the same to us of course. Based on how we’ve behaved in the past, our acquaintances have a basic concept of who we are.
What adjectives would others us use to describe us? In today’s passage, Paul told us that, as followers of Christ, we’re to be known by everyone for our reasonableness (epieikes in the original Greek). This word, epieikes, means fair, patient, moderate, equitable, and gentle. It describes the person who seeks true justice, not in the letter, but rather in the spirit of the law. This is the selfless individual, who pursues not his own way, but rather, that which is good, right, and true.
We all know the kind of person who isn’t epieikes. This personality is unreasonable, argumentative, self-seeking, contrary, difficult, tiresome, uncooperative, and unhelpful. We’ve all had to work with this person and none of us enjoy it. When we see or hear the name, we don’t think generous thoughts. Rather, we think, Ugh, I have to interact with him again. Sigh.
When our name comes up in other’s conversations, what words does it provoke? Do those who know us describe us as reasonable, patient, gentle, and fair? Do others see Christ in us? Or do they just see that we live for ourselves? How we conduct ourselves a sign that we hold up to the world describing what our life is all about. We can call ourselves Christians, but others will see and know what we truly live for by our words, attitudes, and actions.