Journal Phil 4 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “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).
Rejoice in the Lord always…” Phil 4:2-4a
Observation: Real life in the local church: what do I think this “disagreement” was about?
Analysis: Church life is messy.
If I think about all the letters of Paul to the various local churches, and take all the “bible candy” out, I am left with a not so favorable view of Christian churches the way Paul evaluated these local churches.
In Philippi, Paul starts with longing to see the good work begun and finished well. He continues to explain what godliness looks like and exhorts the reader to grasp and take hold of it. Paul exhorts to abhor self-centeredness and to grasp what biblical servanthood is about.
And then we have him directly addressing two LEADING ladies to stop fighting; leading in the sense that they have visible reputations of laboring in the Gospel.
These leading ladies earned the chops necessary to be called that. They are examples set by the Holy Spirit to emulate; to imitate (cp Heb 13 for a stretch comparison). I wonder what they were disagreeing about.
Again, church life is messy. But, does it have to be? My thoughts? It cannot be gotten around for this reason: The Local Church is an instrument of Grace to make Disciples; to knock off the edges of Sin on route to the core; to learn to walk in humility and, particularly, in holiness. A group of people called by God for the purpose of?… being sandpaper to each other.
I think of the four Chapters of Philippians and review significant communications:
- And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment so that you may approve what is excellent… (verse 1:9)
- Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility count others more significant (important) than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others… (verse 2:3-4)
- Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus… (verse 3:13-14)
- Whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about THESE things… (verse 4:8)
Did Paul set up this letter just for Euodia and Syntyche, obliquely addressing their behavior? I don’t think so, that is not the Holy Spirit’s style. But, does all of this address their behavior? Yes, and so many more at Philippi—including me.
Walking in joyful holiness and humility is not easy. I have so much “me” to brush aside. It takes an attitude to hate sin and work at not letting sin have a foothold in my heart.
I am laughing at myself, cringing that it took so long to ignore the “Rejoice in the Lord” scripture section that for decades took my attention from Eudy and Cindy and their uppity fighting with each other. How many have I done the same way with other fellows and forgot all the pointed reminders that the Holy Spirit had Paul write?
Goes to show that there are interesting things in between the “wall hanging” references.
Prayer: Father, thank you for showing me this today. With the thoughts that I discussed with my wife this morning I am reminded not to do anything from selfish conceit. Move me, shape me into the image of your Son, my Lord.
Cause revival. AMEN