5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Paul is making a point, that when planning something, it’s important to add a couple of ingredients to the process of decision-making. I want to look at a few of those ingredients. The first ingredient is:
a) Demonstrating Reasonableness
The first little phrase to focus on is: “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.”The Greek word for ‘reasonableness’ is ‘epieikes’ and that word can also be translated as ‘moderation’ or ‘gentle’—two very different thoughts when left alone. The actual idea of the word is that it describes a person who doesn’t insist on their right of every letter of the law. ‘Reasonableness’ stands for the spirit or attitude that doesn’t seek to retaliate. It denotes one’s willingness to give and take instead of always standing rigidly on rights or entitlements. One commentator I read said the word means that it’s:
“….slow to take offence, it is swift to forgive it. Let a misunderstanding arise, and no false delicacy will prevent it from taking the first step towards reconciliation or adjustment of opinion.”
The thought is to let everyone see that you’re a reasonable, gentle person willing to do whatever it takes to remain reconciled to those around you. This ‘Reasonableness’ is known to everyone! That person knows when something is wrong and also understands how to forgive when justice would otherwise choose the right to condemn! Reasonableness knows how to make allowances, knows when not to stand upon rights, knows how to temper justice with mercy and remembers that there are more important things in this world than rules and regulations.
The tragedy of Les Miserables begins with a man arrested for stealing bread for his starving sister and her family! His judges had zero tolerance for the poor and locked the man up for five-years, according to the letter of the law. The author of Les Miserable, Victor Hugo, contrived the story from a real incident in which he witnessed the arrest of a bread thief, while a Duchess, who could have intervened, watched the scene heartlessly from her coach showing no mercy for the man’s plight.
The ability to be flexible is a key to being reasonable! So, the first ingredient to decision-making is that there’s a flexibility, reasonableness, gentleness and moderation in choosing. It’s a gentle selection and a moderation everyone around can see and enjoy—and that ‘reasonableness’ is known to everyone!
The second ingredient is:
b) Demonstrating Relationship
Verse 5 continues: “The Lord is at hand.”The Greek word for the phrase, ‘at hand’ also translates as the word, ‘near.’Commentators are split as to the exact idea of the word. The majority believe it’s referencing the Lord’s second coming. Another group consider it to be the Lord’s near presence readily available to help. But most of these scholars seem to agree the thought is that of being in His presence.
Personally, I can go either way. The important thing to gain is that we’re to be in relationshipto Him. This ingredient for decision-making is the thought of choosingin His presence. The idea is that the Lord is right there with you, by your side, involved together in the planning session. The Lord is near, He’s at hand with you and you’re in camaraderie with Him. He’s with you studying all the variable and weighing them out one-by-one at your side.
I’ve heard the little phrase, ‘WWJD,’ ‘What Would Jesus Do.’ In this case, it’s not so much asking what He would do, as it is letting Him in on the planning session. It’s finding out, ‘WIJO,’ ‘What is Jesus’ Opinion’ on the matter. The thought is to allow Him to sit right there at the table where He can offer input and guidance for the decision. How do you do that? Here’s where I think it’s important to open God’s Word and ask Him what He says about any given topic. You may say, but this decision is not something that is specific to scriptures! Then, it’s time to add Proverbs 16, verse 3 to the situation:
“Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.”
Now we can trust Him to lead. The third ingredient is:
c) Demonstrating Restfulness
Verse 6 reads: “do not be anxious about anything.” The phrase, ‘do not be anxious’ in the Greek is not a suggestion, but a direct command. The amount of commentary and information written on this little phrase could fill up an ocean! The fact that the verb is a present imperativemakes it very interesting. In other words, I get the sense that everyoneat some time has a struggle with not being anxious and worried over the decision-making process. Otherwise, why are these verses such a popular topic?
Vine’s suggests that the ‘anxious’ probably comes from another Greek noun that means ‘to be drawn in different directions’ and ‘become distracted.’ The idea of verb is to have a distracting care and concern for something. Now, please understand that the Bible doesmake references to anxieties that arelegitimate. For example, in 1 Corinthians 7, verses 33 and 34, it’s actually ‘okay’ for a person to express care, concern and anxiety over their spouse.
“But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.”
The point being, this anxiety is not actual sin, but can result in unwise behavior if left untreated—if I can use the word, ‘untreated’! The fact is, we’ve got to do something with the anxiety. Anxiety harasses the soul. It makes a person feeble, irritating and unsettling in temper. The ‘deep night of the soul’ weighs heavily upon the anxious individual sleepless at 3:30 in the morning. And no one is beyond its reach.
Knowing this, you can see why ‘do not be anxious about anything’is not a suggestion, but a command. You want to get rid of it as soon as possible. Regarding anxiety and worry, Corrie Ten Boom once said:
“Look around and be distressed. Look inside and be depressed. Look at Jesus and be at rest.”
Demonstrating restfulness is the third ingredient for decision-making. Perpetual anxiety is never a good sign for a good decision.
The fourth and final ingredient for getting rid of anxiety is:
d) Demonstrating Relief
Alka-Seltzer is an antacid and pain reliever developed to help people get relief from minor ailments. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is. There is a spiritual Alka-Seltzer for the human soul with anxiety. Let me read the whole of verse 6 again:“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Like two Alka-Seltzer mixed in water; prayer, and supplication mixed together in thanksgiving, are the two ingredients that aid in finding relief from anxiety in decision-making. Spurgeon said of this passage:
“Carry your desires to the Lord of your life, the guardian of your soul. Go to Him with two portions of prayer and one of fragrant praise. Do not pray doubtfully but thankfully. Consider that you have your petitions, and, therefore, thank God for His grace.”
“Pray about everything.”“Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one’s heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you; tell Him your joys, that He may sober them; tell Him your longings, that He may purify them; tell Him your dislikes, that He may help you to conquer them; talk to Him of your temptations, that He may shield you from them; show Him the wounds of your heart, that He may heal them…”
As mentioned, there are volumes and volumes written on this topic—most-likely because relief from anxiety requires the help of God for achieving! Let me just conclude with this, the Ingredients for Decision-Making are here for our help so that we can make good choices before God and live in peace over those decisions. Let’s look at these two verses one last time, this time from the Wuest translation:
“Let your sweet reasonableness, your forbearance, your being satisfied with less than your due, become known to all men. The Lord is near [in that His coming may occur at any moment]. Stop perpetually worrying about even one thing, but in everything by prayer whose essence is that of worship and devotion and by supplication which is a cry for your personal needs, with thanksgiving let your requests for the things asked for be made known in the presence of God.”
J Robert Hanson