June 17, 2019
Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life. (Philippians 4:2-3, NLT)
Friend to Friend
I’m so glad that today we don’t have disagreements or quarrels within the church between women partnering together in ministry. Oh wait… that was just a dream. We are still needing to heed Paul’s instructions to settle disagreements.
I imagine Euodia and Syntyche sitting in the audience as Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi was read. Did they slink in their seats when they heard Paul name them? Was one of them not present because she wasn’t coming to the church gathering if the other one was there?
In the letter to the Philippians Paul had spoken mostly in general terms to the entire group. The theme of the book revolves around joy. Paul wanted the church to rejoice in the Lord. As he instructed two co-laborers in Christ to settle their dispute, he knew that continuing in the argument will take away from their joy and affect the entire church body.
At some point, Euodia and Syntyche had worked together. Paul said they were diligent in telling others the Good News. The gospel truths remind us that God put on flesh and sacrificed His own Son to reconcile us to Himself. After we embrace this gift of salvation, we find we can draw near in our vertical relationship with God. However, the good news permeates our horizontal relationships with others as well.
Settling disagreements doesn’t mean we have to be a doormat or move from our personal convictions. It does include:
- Listening – really trying to hear what the other person is saying. Jesus said, “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” (John 7:24)
- Validating feelings – we may not have meant to offend, but if the other person was hurt, we have to acknowledge their feelings.
- Taking responsibility - none of us is usually sinless in a dispute. We can take ownership for where we might have made assumptions, judged, or used words or actions that hurt another.
- Willingness to move forward – once we have listened, acknowledged feelings, and taken responsibility, then we express to each other that we want to move forward not repeating hurtful actions. None of us is perfect, but we can express the intent to do no harm.
What disagreements have you been involved in lately? Whether at home, work, school, church, or on social media we often can exchange harsh words. When we are at odds with another believer, Paul recommends settling when possible. Situations do exist when others are unwilling to reconcile. We can’t force them to listen, validate feelings, take responsibility or express willingness to move forward. In those situations, we follow Paul’s advice to the church at Rome, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18, NIV)
The Lord wants us to experience joy. I never find it in disharmony with other Christians. Working things out isn’t always easy, but the Lord calls us to settle our disagreements so that the gospel message can go forward with unity.
Dear Lord, please show me any relationships in my life that need attention. Have I offended anyone without knowing it? Help me to settle my disagreements with others so that the focus of my mental and heart energy can be sharing your good news. I don’t want any root of bitterness to grow in my heart that will keep me from joy and affect others negatively. Jesus thank you for reconciling me to the Father through your blood. Help me to be a woman who brings people together rather than tears them apart.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
When it comes to your relationships, where is the Lord calling you to take some action steps? While we may hope the other person will apologize or take a first step, as followers of Jesus it is always our turn. Do you need to invite someone to lunch or make a phone call today to take steps to reconcile with someone? Be bold and make the first move prayerfully. Even if the other person isn’t willing to reconcile, you can find joy in knowing you are honoring God in initiating peace.
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Melissa Spoelstra is a women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher, and writer who is madly in love with Jesus and passionate about helping women of all ages know Christ more intimately through serious Bible study. She is the author of five women’s Bible studies and a newly released book, Dare to Hope: Living Intentionally in an Unstable World. She lives in Pickerington, Ohio, with her pastor husband and four kids. Find her online at www.melissaspoelstra.com.
Originally published Monday, 17 June 2019.