Paul calls out two members of the church and warns them to end their dispute because it’s affecting the church.
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. (v2)
How would you feel if it was you today being named in front of the church?
Paul tells them all how to maintain unity:
1. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (v4)
Be a church that rejoices: Rejoice always. Even when circumstances are bad, it is an inner heart attitude.
2. Let your gentleness be evident to all. (v5a)
Your gentleness should be evident to all – even your persecutors. This is not softness, but strength.
Will we be those who show gentleness? Will we be able to always rejoice?
Paul reminds them The Lord is near (v5b). This is not the second coming or God watching you – God looks on the heart so we can’t pretend. God is for us and with us.
Psalm 23 God is indeed my shepherd – he is near to us and will work with us to help us in difficult situations. If God is near can that bring us to a place where we can rejoice.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (v6-7)
Do not be anxious about anything – is that impossible? Not if we bring things to God with prayer and petition. This is the process we need to go through in order to find the solution.
Paul, as a Roman citizen, had the right to appeal to the emperor. In the same way as children we have the right to appeal to God.
It is a peace we can experience while we are still in difficulty – Shalom.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.(v8)
How can we think about such things when we live in the world today? Impossible dream? Positive thinking wrapped in Christian jargon?
God is asking us to look at our life differently. Choose wisely what we see etc. And look at what God can say to us through our circumstances. Don’t stay in a Christian ghetto, hiding. Seek goodness, beauty, and truth everywhere. Jesus did it with the outcasts of society.
Although we are a work in progress we can look at everything in a godly way. In the Richard Curtis film About Time a man finds he can go back in time and change what happens – what would you change if you could live the day again? Look for the little things that can make a difference. Some things you can’t change. Look at Jesus. He was the son of God and look how things turned out for him.
What has God said to you? What have you done about it? Our beliefs should affect our behaviour.
[based on a sermon by Pete Orphan]