Euodia and Syntyche's dispute may have caused contention among other believers in Philippi. That often happens in a close knit community. Friends are apt to take sides resulting in hurt feelings and anxiety. The whole church may have begun to lose its harmony. Throughout his letter to Philippi, Paul pleaded for unity. Philippians is filled with phrases such as "stand firm in one spirit, and contending as one man." 1:27 Paul beseeches the believers there to make his joy complete by being "like-minded, having the same love," and being "one in spirit and purpose. 2:2
In Philippians 2:14-16 Paul urges the assembly to be different, to stand out, from those who do not know Christ. Christians are to emulate Jesus, being humble and obedient to the Father. We are to shine like stars in the darkness as we offer the Good News of Christ. When we are arguing among ourselves, we don't shine. We look just like everyone else in a darkened world.
We know from their story that Euodia and Syntyche had worked for the cause of the gospel. They had their goal firmly in mind when Paul was with them. In his absence, perhaps they were still doing the work they were called to do but forgetting to spend quiet time with God. There may have been so much to do that the work seemed too important to put off. They may have skipped one day of prayer with the expectation of making it up the next. This is often the way it starts. Good, hard-working Christians forget that the source of life and their source of peace is Jesus and we can do nothing without Him.
In his letter, Paul asked other members of the church at Philippi to help Euodia and Syntyche to resolve their differences and restore harmony in the church. It is the responsibility of the members of the family of Christ to help resolve such situations with peaceful solutions - not to take sides or add fuel to the fire.
I think it is important to remember that the world watches Christians. We may be the only bit of Jesus that some will ever see. Disputes will arise but we must not dim the light of the gospel by fighting among ourselves. Let's remember Paul's words in Colossians 3:13 & 14. Bear with each other. Forgive grievances. Forgive as the Lord forgave us. As members of one body, we are called to peace.
Something to think about:
- Do you start everyday with personal quiet time with Jesus?
- When it does not involve questions of doctrine, can you yield to another's need to be right?
- Do you actively engage in keeping the peace?
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