Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel. – Philippians 4:1-3
At the writing of this letter, the Apostle Paul is in prison. Yet, his love and passionate concern, for those to whom he ministered and for those who ministered alongside him, are so very clear. With all of the deep, spiritual truths of God that Paul wants to pour into these brothers and sisters, Paul takes time to address two women by name, and asks another believer, his true companion, to be a mediator to help them reconcile their relationship and re-establish their unity, their like-mindedness, in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Maybe you know Euodia and Syntyche. Maybe you know two sisters in Christ, or two brothers in Christ, or two groups in Christ, who have taken a hard line of disagreement with, and separation from, one another. Feelings are hurt. Frustration is real. Judgments are made. Anger is clearly present or just barely kept under a tight mask of calm or self-righteousness.
What are we to do? Well, if we’re Euodia and Syntyche – or Ed and Sidney – we need to get over ourselves really quickly. We need to humble ourselves before our Lord Jesus. We need to give up all of our pride, our stubbornness, our self-righteousness, our self-indignation and that horrible death-bringing attitude of needing to be right – and believing we always are!
What are we to do if we’re the sisters and brothers in Christ who are aware of this brokenness and disagreement within the Body? We also need to get over ourselves really quickly. We, too, need to humble ourselves before our Lord Jesus. And we need to stand firm in Jesus. Stand firm in His Word, in His Spirit, in His love, in His grace, in His truth, in His wisdom. And as we stand firm in our Lord Jesus, we will be given His ways and words to listen, to speak and to encourage the healing and unity of God’s beloved children within the Body of Christ.
These truths are for all of us – whether we are in the midst of the disagreement or we are the observers. We all must fully focus on Jesus. Fully focus on what is truly of eternal value and importance. And get over ourselves about anything that isn’t!
Like Paul, who pleads for unity, humility and focusing on Jesus, so do I. First, I plead for myself and for how I relate to others, asking God to remove all of my pride and stubbornness, constantly and continually, so that my energy and my efforts will not be spent in self-focused attitudes, self-justification, critical judgment or just plain stupid and petty thoughts, words and actions that contend against another of God’s beloved children in the Body of Christ. I plead with God to, instead, keep transforming me so that I may, by His love and power, passionately contend for the souls and lives of others on behalf of the gospel of Christ!
And I plead with God on behalf of all of us in the Body. May we each allow God to keep us humble and living in peace with all our brothers and sisters in Christ for the sake of His glory. May we each reflect Jesus beautifully and truly to those who do not yet know Him as Savior and Lord. May we, as members of the Body of Christ, live like the Body of Christ!
In the love and peace, grace and truth of Jesus Christ, Sylane