**Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. ** Philippians 4:5
Yesterday we looked at tip #4, rejoicing, and talked about how we can set the mood for our home and for our marriage if we have a grateful heart and a joyful spirit. When I first looked at our verse for today from Philippians, I felt it was a bit contradictory to tip #4. So I dug a little deeper to see if I could make sense of these two contrary statements.
The word moderation can be defined in various ways. What we often hear when we speak of moderation is that we should live moderately in our taste for the things of this world. Don’t drink too much. Don’t eat too much. Don’t exercise too much. Don’t talk too much,etc.
I suppose we could limit ourselves to this definition, but based on the rest of this chapter, I don’t see Paul concerned with these activities.
Tip#1 was to stand fast. We talked about having a firmness in our convictions or in our spirit or in our will concerning our marital vows.
Tip #2 was about being of the same mind, to be agreeable, to find common ground, to learn how to compromise, to have some give and take and all of that has a lot to do with being humble and not having to always be in charge.
Tip #3 was about serving, serving together, working as one, which requires humility again.
Tip #4 was on rejoicing, having a joyful, positive and grateful spirit.
I think it’s kind of veering off the path if we start focusing on rules and limitations.
I think moderation goes deeper than that.
Some words that we could define moderation with would be appropriate, mild, gentle, or patient. These are not rules, but they are words, again, that deal with the heart.
Looking at all of this from the perspective of marriage, maybe what Paul is trying to say is that we need to have some discernment. We need to know when it is appropriate to agree and to work together and when it is time for us to stand alone. I think we need to know when to step in to help a brother, a friend, our spouse, or our children and when we need to step back and allow them to learn in a way that impacts them more because they’ve paid the full price of their decisions instead of us always being a buffer for them.
I think we need to know that although it says to** Rejoice always**, it isn’t always appropriate to be rejoicing if someone else is mourning. Solomon tells us in the Book of Ecclesiastes that there is a time to weep, a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance. So it’s not always appropriate to outwardly rejoice.
If we should be joyful, bubbling over with happiness, and our spouse or a friend is truly hurting from great loss, it would be more appropriate to exhibit moderation. We need to be gentle and mourn with them. We’re not going to dance at a funeral, we’re going to weep with those who weep. To be bubbling over with joy when someone is hurting badly is like quenching the smoking flax that Jesus talks about in Matthew 12.
So today’s tip for marriage is moderation. We can learn each of these tips, but we need to learn how to use them with some discernment. Like pieces of a puzzle. We need to take each piece and see how and where it fits best in the overall picture. We need to know when it is appropriate to rejoice, to serve, to agree, and to stand fast. God does everything decently and in order and He wants us to learn the same. We can’t put a puzzle piece anywhere we want to. It would mess up the whole finished puzzle if it is used in the wrong place.
Discernment and sensitivity is key in building a strong marriage or in any other relationship. Let’s learn to listen and observe and pray for discernment and be sensitive to our spouse’s needs just as we would like them to be for us.