From November 2013…still true and timely, though!
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal [laborers], help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Philippians 4: 2-3
As I’m reading through Philippians with a great group of women in our bible study, I paused on these opening verses of chapter 4. It can be easy to gloss over this scripture because they’re not exactly “hang on your refrigerator verses”. I want to move on quickly to verse 4, or maybe 6, or better yet verse 8! But, Paul has to address that white elephant in the Philippian church room. Every single church somewhere has a situation like this, and while it’s no fun to discuss, we really must.
Two women, Believers in Jesus Christ, aren’t getting along. They had been working hard to build God’s Kingdom and spread the gospel message of hope, but somewhere along the line someone got offended. Maybe Syntyche got a pat on the back and Euodia got jealous. Or Euodia took a much-needed rest and Syntyche pulled a Martha and got upset. Who knows? But, as women, we don’t have to use much imagination to put ourselves in their situation.
Instead of taking our thoughts captive and dwelling on what is good and true and lovely, we choose to harbor anger against others when we have been wronged. Rather than putting on forgiveness, we cling to grievances and bitterness.
Yet, in the midst of exhorting this friend, Clement, to help these women reconcile, Paul seems to “jump” to verse 4:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Paul was not switching topics or being random here. See, joy is a safeguard against much. If we dwell on joy and the gifts that God has blessed me with, if we have joy and contentment, rather than bitterness or division, my heart with be guarded from squabbles like what these ladies were having.
During bible study, Grace, our leader that day, highlighted some scripture that really connects with this Philippian passage. In Luke 10, Jesus appointed seventy-two workers to go out and heal illnesses, cast out demons, you name it. Yet, even though these men would be able to do such great works, Jesus says this:
Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
Here’s the challenge. When we are tempted to hold onto offenses… when we are feeling jealous or overlooked…when we are struggling in a relationship…Remember the joy of our salvation. In doing so, we will battle against many sins that rise up and threaten to divide us from other believing sisters and from church authorities and from our husbands and children.