A Reasonable Life
Sometimes I can be totally unreasonable. The smallest spark can ignite a fire in my spirit that creates flammable reactions. This past week our family hosted dear friends, a family of five. The house was full of laughter and fellowship, but also six little girls. It was community at it's finest, but as I let to-do lists slide, I felt my stress level rise. Often the pixies felt the effect. In the midst, I came across a convicting post:
"Let your reasonableness be known to everyone." (Philippians 4:5 ESV)
As a mom and wife, I desire to be reasonable, but the reality of my days too often belie the unrest in my spirit. I let anxiety, fear, and pride surface so that the result is an influx of unreasonable expectations. Little things become big things, and the wake of the path of my unreasonableness is utter destruction. I forget to tender the spirits of these little and large hearts around me.
Shrinking From Self-Centeredness
In Greek, the word reasonableness, is epieikes and contains the idea of having a "temper which contents itself with less than its due, and shrinks from insisting on its strict rights." How often do I shrink away from selfishness? There is no peace in self-centeredness. A reasonable spirit translates in meekness towards those with whom I am in community.
It means that when something arises I choose to interpret it in the best sense rather than thinking the worst. When miscommunication ensues between my husband and I, in reasonableness I choose to believe the best of him. When my nerves are fraying at the edges from sibling quarrels, I react with patience rather than imploding.
The apostle Paul points to the Lord's eminence--He is at hand--as the impetus for the Philippian believer's reasonableness toward one another. The phrase was often used by the early church to remind them of the Lord's return; an event which ought to incite reasonableness in their common every day interactions. Basically, for you and I, the thought that Christ is coming should spur us on to be reasonable.
The idea that the Lord is at hand also implies that God is near, ready to help and save. The power of His spirit is alive within me, filling me with all I need to live a supernatural life. If I desire to please God, reasonableness will evidence itself in how I respond to those around me.
The Burden of Glory
C.S. Lewis referred to our desire to please God as the weight of glory, "To please God ... to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness ... to be loved by God ... delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son--it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain."
I find that when I let go of my wants, demands, my own unreasonableness that a glory is waiting for me that burdens my spirit with joy. Who doesn't want the burden of joy? Lewis continues: "Glory, as Christianity teaches me to hope for it, turns out to satisfy my original desire which I had not noticed. By ceasing for a moment to consider my own wants I have begun to learn better what I really wanted."
What I really want is not the wants that I think I want. The burden of glory, my desire to please God, transcends unreasonableness and sees the glory found in those around me. The joy that comes when I lay down my wants for another.
When I am reasonable, I am giving others the respect due them. I am, in a sense, completing my neighbor's glory.
It is not hard for us to imagine our own potential glory that will ensue in the life to come. But what of my neighbor's glory? Lewis said, "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship."
How can I carry the load of the glory of those around me?
By letting my reasonableness be known to all. Reasonableness approaches others with the proper respect due them. Reasonableness is the gateway of proper conduct in my dealings with the "everlasting splendours" we who have been redeemed in Christ will one day become.
May I live a life of reasonableness, remembering the glory of those around me.