PHILIPPIANS 4:2-3: “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.” NLT
OBSERVATION: Are you holding onto an offense from a Christian brother or sister? Perhaps it is your pastor or Christian leader. Did you leave your church because of an estranged relationship with another believer? Dear one…
IT IS TIME TO BE RECONCILED!
To be honest, I have never spent much time on these two short verses in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Yet, this morning, I almost could not leave them. Paul explores Eudora and Syntyche – “…because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement.” These are some of the most powerful words I have ever read.
After pastoring churches for over 40 years I have witnessed my share of disagreements. I have seen people leave the church because they had a disagreement with me and also because they had a disagreement with others. When we find ourselves in this situation the easy thing to do is leave and go somewhere new. No one likes confirmation and it takes effort, humility, and grace to work through personal issues.
My last church was in Weatherford, Texas. In this town, there were a large number of Baptist churches. One Baptist church pastor said to me in passing – “Every Baptist church in town is a result of a church split.” The purpose of sharing this is not to indict the Baptists. It is simply to illustrate that the norm in life is to avoid reconciliation. We avoid it so much that we will even start a new church so that we don’t have to deal with those we disagree with.
One day, at the local Walmart, I saw someone who used to go to our church. I approached them to say hello, and they acted like they did not see me, turned around, and almost ran the other way. Is this how brothers and sisters in Christ should act? I have made many mistakes in my life and ministry. I am a broken human like everyone else who is on the pathway of restoration and healing. Yet, I have tried to always work on reconciliation. I have not always been successful, but I have always tried.
As a pastor, I have witnessed the wonderful power of God’s grace working in individuals who are willing to set their pride aside and call upon the grace of God. The broken relationships, when brought to the cross, are healed and even strengthened. I have seen this in personal relationships and marriages. It is a wonderful thing. Why is it so important to be a reconciler?
Our relationships reflect our faith and our testimony in Jesus Christ. They say more about the power of the Gospel than anything else. If the cross is a call to forgiveness then we must model the forgiveness that we have received from Christ by extending it to others. There is nothing more powerful than forgiveness. It changes our lives and the lives of others.
We also must consider the work of God. Paul notes that these two women had been great contributors to the work of the Gospel.
- “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.”
I have witnessed that when people refuse to work out their disagreements, when they run from their conflicts, it usually sidelines them in their work for the Lord. A once vibrant faith grows dim. Anger and discontentment are no motivation for working in the harvest of lost souls. When we pull away it really is an act of selfishness. And, when we are thinking about our needs we stop thinking about the needs of others.
If I could pass on anything from my 40+ years of experience as a pastor it would be this…
IT IS TIME TO BE RECONCILED!
One last note. There is no guarantee that the other part will accept your extension of repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. However, what I have found is that when I extend these to someone offended, even if they do not respond in kind, I am set free. Personal repentance breaks the bonds. Forgiveness sets me free. I can once again think about this person, pray for them, and bless them, with an unburdened and unencumbered heart.
Lord, this morning, as I reflect upon these verses, speak to my heart. If there are any bridges in my life that need mending, grant me the grace and courage to take the first step. Let me always strive to keep a shortlist and settle all disagreements with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
In Jesus Name!