I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
In his letter to the Phillipian church Paul takes time to address two women who have fallen out. He is desperate for these women to confront the issue because the stakes are so high – it affects the whole body.
In the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matt 18:21-35), Jesus illustrated the importance of forgiving one another. We Christians have all been forgiven so much, and at such a cost, that any sins committed against us are small in comparison. He warned that if we don’t forgive others, we will not be forgiven.
1. Get back to the issue
Whatever the women had fallen out about was not doctrine or a moral issue or Paul would have addressed it. Maybe they had just gone off in a huff. Whatever it was, they needed to stop blaming each other and look at themselves.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
All believers are children of God. Ask yourself “Am I still living as a little child, in humility and love? When someone is hurtful or unjust do I think of them or just my own heart?” The important thing is to resolve the issue and not dwell on hurt feelings.
2. Get back to the Lord
The important thing with every trial is how we react to it. The only thing we can control is our own feelings and our own reaction. Anger is not bad when it is against sin but our human nature corrupts it. As soon as an angry thought pops up pray for that person and leave it with the Lord.
Set aside your personal agenda and take on God’s agenda of grace – make the first move, even if it’s just “Have I offended you?” Ask God for grace and wisdom to speak in gentleness and love. In army tactics a surgical strike is when the enemy is destroyed without collatteral damage. We need to do the same – take out the sin without destroying the sinner.
Sometimes we need a third party, where we can feel safe, explain how we feel, and be held accountable. Choose the person carefully.
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
3. Get back to work
The energy the women had used to promote the gospel was now being used to bring it down. We need to stop squabbling and be like Jesus.
4. Get back to the future
We compare ourselves with others, kids cause contention, there are divisions between traditionalists & modernists, different tastes etc. It’s all temporary. Our names are in the book of life – we will be read out together.
Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
Nothing brings God more glory than people living their lives like Christ.
[Based on notes from the AECW Ladies Conference 20/4/13]