Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, so stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. 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 fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. (Php. 4:1-5)
Every time I read this passage I have to think, “How would I feel if my claim to fame was that I couldn’t get along with others?”
We don’t know exactly who Euodias and Syntyche were, but it seems that they were influential ladies in the Philippian church. Paul’s comments indicate that they were ‘fellow workers’ and willing to take a stand in the ‘struggle for the cause of the gospel.’ But somewhere in the midst of their taking a stand together, they lost focus and started taking a stand against each other. Perhaps their disagreement came about as the result of a difference of opinion; or perhaps it came about over a desire for importance. Regardless of the reason Paul encourages them to work out their differences.
Disagreements are bound to happen sooner or later and as fellow saints whose names are in the book of life we need to learn how to live in harmony. At times it may be necessary for those outside of the conflict to get involved. ‘True Comrade’ is probably a reference to the pastor or another leader in the church. Apparently the conflict between these two ladies had festered to the point that it was now necessary for Paul to make it public. But rather than let our problems grow to such proportions, as the followers of Christ we should have ways to manage our emotions and reconcile our differences.
Over the next few days we will discuss some of the various suggestions Paul makes to help us deal with our daily conflicts. For today’s devotional thought let’s consider the importance of our attitude. ‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!’ Being in a Roman prison Paul knew well the baggage that could come from a bad attitude. Whenever someone allows themselves to harbor a bad attitude towards another person, bitterness is sooner or later bound to develop. But rather than being overcome, Paul was determined to be an overcomer! Regardless of his circumstances, Paul would seek to rise above it on the wings of rejoicing!
During my years under Pastor Cannon I learned a lot about the ministry and especially dealing with difficult people. On many occasions I witnessed someone attacking him, but rarely did I ever see him try to retaliate. As a matter of fact, rarely did I see him even let it be known that there was a problem. What I normally saw was him rising above his problems through the power of rejoicing. More than once I saw him walk away from his problems whistling. Was he hurting inside? Probably. Could he have become angry with the other individual? Of course. But he would not allow anger to take control of him. Regardless of the circumstances outwardly, he was determined to have control inwardly and he gained control of himself through an attitude of rejoicing.
‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!’