Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 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. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:4-7
We are all called to be disciple-makers. Making disciples covers a lot of territory from the initial introduction of someone to Jesus all the way to being a mature Jesus-follower who exemplifies what it is to be in Christ. There is specific training in this process, but most of the life-changing dimensions are more caught than taught. A disciple picks up on what it is to follow Jesus by watching other followers of Jesus follow him.
In this passage, Paul presents a quality that is to be demonstrated. It can’t really be taught academically. The ESV reads, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.” In my opinion, the ESV missed it in this translation. According to The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, the word the ESV translates as “reasonableness” carries the concepts of mildness, forbearance, gentleness, and graciousness. I prefer the word “graciousness.” It seems to incorporate a sense of all these others. It is also most appropriate for a Jesus-follower to reflect grace in their life.
Note that this is a passive activity. We “let” everyone observe graciousness in our lives. It isn’t a marketing campaign actively proclaiming how terrific we Jesus-followers are. How wonderful we are, i.e., how gracious we are, is something they observe, not something we announce.
There is another passive component in this passage. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Peace is a passive result, not something we actively pursue or produce. Having this peace of God helps make being gracious possible. It is a grace enhancer.
There are two commands. Rejoice and pray with thanksgiving. I take it that if we focus on these items, the others are rather automatic. So our focus should be on our joy that is manifest by rejoicing and our active prayer life characterized by thanksgiving. Rejoicing in the Lord is our exultation in Christ, who he is and what he has done for us, his supremacy and his beauty.
Pray about everything; nothing is too insignificant or too overwhelming. We are told to pray for Kings and all that are in authority. That is a big task, but we are to enter into it with thanksgiving. Pray for safety when you travel whether it is cross country on a business trip or vacation or a trip to the grocery store. Pray with thanksgiving. Pray for your children who have yet to fall in love with Jesus. Pray for them with thanksgiving.
So what happens when we live a joyful, prayerful life of thanksgiving? All men observe grace in you, and you experience the peace of God. What a deal. We can all do that.