The Reading: Philippians 4:1-3
“ … agree in the Lord …” (v.2) RSV
Discord in the fellowship is grievous and hurtful to everyone. It also hinders the work of the Holy Spirit. It is essential that those responsible for pastoral care should be proactive in sorting out the problem. But how often do we ignore discord, hope it will go away, think it doesn’t matter or think it is none of our business?
Paul, however, is anxious to help the two women who have their horns locked in mortal combat, to sort out their disagreement or personality clash. We have no idea what was the problem of Euodia and Syntyche, but there is no need to know. Problems and disagreements abound in any community. Paul is more concerned that they are helped to work it through and come to an agreement.
People who are highly charged often reach a deadlock. They cannot see how to get out of their conflict. They are usually persuaded that each one of them is in the right. It is amazing how religion stirs up such deep feeling.
Maybe also these two were suffering from a personality clash. For all we know one of them could have been a ‘Martha’ type and the other a ‘Mary’. One felt the other wasn’t pulling her weight and the other felt her counterpart was unspiritual.
The matter was made worse by the fact that these two women were missionaries in some shape or form. Paul says that they had “laboured side by side with (him) in the gospel” (v.3). We are all responsible to pray for and help where we can if there is conflict in the fellowship.
Despite this running sore Paul is still positive. He refers to the church as “my joy and crown” (v.1), and that their “names are in the book of life” (v.3). He does not let a particular problem cloud his judgement. The people of the church are still God’s chosen ones, loved and special.
Thank you Lord that each one is precious in your sight. Help me to treat others as special and to resolve discords.
1 Who else does Paul call “my joy and my crown”?
2 What is the Book of Life (v.3)?