1 Therefore, my beloved brethren a whom I long to see, my joy and crown, so stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.
2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.
3 Indeed, true comrade, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also, and the rest of my a fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
-Paul has quite an affection for these believers
-There are a couple of people who need to do some reconciling
-He calls on others to help in that process.
-Our names are in the "book of life."
And now things are about to get practical. So stand firm in the Lord. After all that has been said previously now it is time to act on what we know. And what should we do? Stand. Stand firm. Not march into a battle, for that has already been won. Not retreat from the enemy, for he has already been defeated. No need to fear, Jesus has it ALL under control. What He needs me to do is stand firm in what I know. This is not a stand that is marked by doubt, it is not a warm fuzzy feeling without any depth, it is a stand borne of all that has come before in Paul's letter.
Do you ever consider how much our attitudes towards other believers affects the church? This next verse in Philippians leaves no doubt in my mind that you and I must work to maintain unity. We have to do more than give lip service to unity. Paul makes an issue of it here in a most gentle admonition to a group of people he loved dearly, to two ladies in particular. It is a good message for all of us as well. No one really knows what was going on with these two women...but if it was not impacting the unity of the local body in Philippi there would be no reason for Paul to address it in this letter. I find it interesting that Paul does not take sides, he pleads with Euodia and he pleads with Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. The New King James translates this "to be of the same mind in the Lord." And Paul pleads with "my true comrade" as well to help these women, and as this letter was read before the church it is also a plea with the church to work with these women to live in harmony or to be of the same mind that was in Christ.
What does it mean to be of the same mind? It is an interesting phrase that Paul has used earlier in his letter. Paul has been laying that out for us as well. Let me take you back to Philippians 2:1-4.
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, (Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus) who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
When we walk into church on Sunday, it is not enough just to join in worship with other believers, there is an attitude, a way of thinking that needs to dominate our interactions with other believers. In His word God is calling us to have the same mind as Christ. That means that there is love, fellowship, affection, mercy or compassion...we are a people that need to be of the same mind, the same love, the same spirit, intent on one purpose. We do nothing out of selfishness, but consider the other believers in our midst as more important than ourselves. Imagine a church where the people are not looking out for "number one" but place the rest of the body of Christ above their own needs/desires. Imagine a church where the members take the form of bond-servants and are obedient to God even to the point of death. Do you think a church like that could ever exist? Paul is saying that if we live as we should that this is what the church should look like.
Ever catch yourself thinking badly of another woman at church? Gossiping about her to others? Tearing her down behind her back? What do you think this does to unity in the body of Christ? We have got to learn to live in harmony, but we don't really teach how to go about that these days. We say things like, "we will agree to disagree," but really, what a cop-out. That is not true unity, that is simply hiding from the hard work that needs to be done. (Deep down inside you are still grumbling about that poor soul and how wrong they are in your eyes. Or what about the very prevalent thought I often hear expressed that goes something like, "I may be called to love others in the church but that does not mean I need to like every one of them." Can you imagine those kinds of words coming from Jesus?!
Oh this train of thought is proving to be very convicting this morning. I need to be crystal clear on one point, this letter is not about our relationships with non-believers. The true church does not have any non-believers in it; the true church is made up of people who profess their faith in Jesus; in His death and the power of His resurrection. (As a side note; I think that this is what our local churches should be as well, instead we try to make them into something that would attract people outside the faith and in doing so we have really "dumbed-down" our message and stopped preaching the types of sermons that really help us all to grow in our knowledge and understanding. We have been pulled into the world's point of view that we need to be entertaining, our pastors need to be able to deliver good jokes to keep us laughing along the way. We are a people who still want milk rather than meat...I better not get started on that right now.)
As the time drew near for Jesus to die on the cross He prayed these wonderful words for us all: “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. (Matthew 17:20-23, NASB) This is just a portion of Jesus' prayer and it is well worth reading and making a part of our own prayers. The first step in my application of the call to unity begins here: in God's Word, in prayer. This is another one of those prayers that I think God will be delighted to answer and so I totally expect that a lot of application is about to become reality as I ask that He make me of one mind, that He give me that attitude that does not have to seek my own way. There are some things that I absolutely will not compromise; matters of key doctrine that cannot be compromised...that is not the kind of dispute that Paul was addressing here for we know he would have addressed such things head on.) No, I believe that the issues facing these two women who have labored with Paul in the Gospel were probably more like the things that we continue to do to one another as women today. It may start as a little thing, but lets not fool ourselves on what those little things can do to the whole body and its witness to the world. Let us be women who strive towards unity. And let us keep in mind the bigger picture..."so that the world may believe."
Grace, Peace, and Mercy
I am a woman with a Mary heart and these are my musings as I read and study God's Word
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