Would you consider yourself to be a “reasonable person”? We use phrases like: “let’s be reasonable about it” and “that sounds reasonable” to describe a particular frame of mind and approach to problems or decisions. We generally use the word “reasonable” to mean sensible, fair, open to other opinions or viewpoints. It is a quality that is admired in others and is, hopefully, an attitude that we try to maintain in our own lives.
The Greek word that the apostle James uses here is used nowhere else in the New Testament. This is the only time it is used in the Scriptures. There must be some significance to that fact, wouldn’t you think? The Greek word is “eupeithes”, and it has a deeper meaning to it. It means “easily persuaded” or “persuaded in a good way”, in contrast to the stubborn and obstinate people who insist on having their own way. It also means a willingness to obey God, to pursue the teachings of the Scriptures, and to follow the example of the Lord Jesus Christ.
A reasonable person is willing to give way on minor and unimportant issues. As the old saying goes: “Don’t sweat the small stuff; keep the big picture in mind.” Such a person takes the first step to resolve potential issues before they become issues. He gives preference to the other person before envy and strife can even become an issue.
One who possesses this wisdom from above is considerate, agreeable, and easy to live with. He is willing and ready to listen to the views of others, to hear both sides of the story, and to change his viewpoint if he is proved to be wrong. He seeks the good of others over his own good.
Abraham (or Abram) in the Old Testament is a good example of one who acted reasonably. In Genesis 13 Abram settles a property dispute with his nephew Lot. Abram suggests a compromise and gives the preference to Lot. That’s being reasonable!
Another example comes from American history, involving a man by the same name. President Abraham Lincoln, after the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War, knew that General Robert E. Lee was open to attack from the rear as he was retreating to Virginia. He sent word to General George Meade, the newly appointed commander of the Potomac, to attack. Aware that the General was under heavy pressure to succeed, Lincoln also enclosed this personal note: “The order I enclose is not on record. You need not publish it. Then, if you succeed, you will have all the credit of the movement. If not, I’ll take the responsibility.”
May we have the kind of unselfish concern for others that was displayed by these two Abraham’s. May we be reminded of the ultimate example of unselfishness: the Lord Jesus Christ, who left His throne in heaven to become a human being so that He might understand our weaknesses, and so that He might pay the price for our sins in our place. When issues and decisions face us in our daily lives, “let’s be reasonable about it” in a Scriptural way. Does that sound reasonable to you?