The next 7 days (as we’ve completed our “Refuel” series) my blog will continue to be a little different as we finish reading through Philippians. I’ll share some of my own thoughts and hope you’ll ask God to open your heart to what He wants to say to you as you read a little each day from this book of joy. If you’re just joining us, I hope this week inspires and challenges you.
4:1 Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! 2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, 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.
Paul reminds them again of his joy and love for them. They are his dear friends and co-workers in building Christ’s Kingdom. He reminds them again (as he did earlier in the letter) to “stand firm”. There’s a scene in the movie Braveheart where all the Scots are lined up as the English are charging. As their enemy get’s closer and closer, William Wallace continues to tell his countrymen (his fellow workers) to hold the line (to stand firm). Paul wants the Believers at this church in Philippi to stand firm in the Lord because he knows they will face the onslaught of their enemy (Satan).
One way for them to stand firm is to live in harmony with one another. Evidently there are two women in the church who are having an issue with one another and Paul begs them to put aside their differences and find harmony and agreement in doing what the Lord wants. He even calls upon another Believer in the church to get involved if necessary to bring about harmony between these two women.
Paul knew that a church fighting within itself will never win the battle in the trenches of the world. One of Satan’s biggest ploys is to get Believers mad at each other and fighting over something. Most of the time the fights are over things that don’t really matter, but feelings get hurt – power plays are made – control is challenged – and the cause of Christ is hurt.
If you have a wound in your physical body that is not treated correctly, it can lead to infection and even death. In 1977 I got a severe case of blood poisoning from a scrape on my leg and knee that got infected. It was very serious, and could have killed me had it not been treated correctly. Whenever there’s a wound between members of the body of Christ (the church); if that wound is not treated correctly, it can lead to infection and death. People get infected with power or personal agendas and the cause of Christ can be dealt a death blow in that church. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. That’s why we strive to remind every member of our church that any attitude or action that causes disunity is sin. That’s why a part of our membership covenant is a commitment to maintain the harmony of our church. Being unified is also a fulfillment of the (high priestly) prayer of Jesus shortly before He was crucified (read John 17).
There will always be conflicts and clashes in the church because it’s made up of imperfect people like me and you. However, those of us who are striving to “stand firm in the Lord” must set an example and help maintain unity. We need to be “unifiers” who help people (like the women in this church at Philippi) get past their differences and move forward with the cause of Christ.
If you have a legitimate issue – go to the person(s) involved and try to get it resolved. If it isn’t an ethical, moral or theological issue and you can’t solve your differences – let it go. Agree to disagree, and then unite around the cause of Christ. Don’t be guilty of taking your agenda or personal opinions to others and spreading strife or dissension. Proverbs 16:28 says that a perverse man stirs up dissension.
How could you apply the truth from this passage? If you tend to gossip or spread things you shouldn’t, confess your sin and ask God to help you control your speech (you might also ask some friends to help you control your speech). If you’re around someone who is creating a problem or talking negatively about someone, encourage them to stop and go to the person(s) involved and work out a solution. Another solution – don’t hang around or listen to anyone who likes to create controversy or dissension because God’s Word says they are perverse.