I have had my share of squabbles in my 50 years in the ministry. I am very thankful that my disagreements with others didn’t make the pages of the Bible.
That was not the case for two women in Philippi. Their quarrel was so pronounced that Paul challenged them to unity in his letter.
Think about their situation. First, someone had to travel 335 miles to Ephesus to bring an offering to the apostle. Then, another journey back to Philippi was necessary.
Weeks and possibly months passed, while the two ladies refused to be reconciled. Their division necessitated a rebuke by Paul.
Philippians 4.2-3 – I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.
Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my coworkers, whose names are in the book of life.
Euodia and Syntyche were partners with Paul in the work of the ministry. Their names were in the book of life.
There was a factor that limited their effectiveness, disunity.
When the first portion of the letter was read to the congregation, I’m sure they felt the conviction of comparison between Jesus’ behavior and theirs.
— Philippians 2.5-8 – Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he existed in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be grasped,
But emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
assuming human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a human,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death —
even death on a cross.
Imagine how they felt when they heard the command to “be of the same mind in the Lord” (verse 2) with their names attached!
I expect they fell to their knees in repentance, only to get to their feet and embrace each other in forgiveness.
What happened to Euodia and Syntyche should be repeated in churches around the world. Part of living a Jesus-kind-of-life is a willingness to “be of the same mind in the Lord” with each other.
Celebrate the Lord
I agree with N.T. Wright that the admonition to “rejoice in the Lord” refers to a public celebration.
Of course, Paul’s words can be personally applied, but imagine what will happen when churches publically celebrate the lordship of Christ.
Philippians 4.4-5 – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
What would a gentle public celebration of the lordship of Christ look like?
I saw a documentary on the Civil Rights Movement a year ago. The time was the late 1950s or early 1960s and the local sheriff marched the African American students out of town with his officers on horseback.
I don’t remember the reason behind the sheriff’s actions and I don’t remember what happened to the students.
What I do remember is that the students returned to the courthouse the next day and in mass knelt and prayed for the sheriff.
That is the best picture of a gentle celebration of the lordship of Jesus Christ.
We do well to consider ways we can celebrate the King of all kings in a gentle and Christ-honoring way.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube. It can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. You will appreciate Rudy’s insights.
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