Monday, April 24, 2017

Euodia and Syntyche - oh, how embarrassing!

You've seen it.
I know you have.
You've maybe "been there."
Even in the community of faith, in a group of believers, inside the fellowship of a church, it can happen.

Two people who have worked side by side, and shared ups and downs, can have what my grandma used to call "a falling out." They've labored together, laughed together, cried together, and seen God's blessings together.
But something happens.
Maybe it's a disagreement over something small. Maybe it's a small sliver of jealousy that grows larger with time. It's usually not something major.
But it gets that way.

Then you have the sharp glances. The whispers. The lack of cooperation. The open dissension. The attitudes that have no place in the church, and hurt the testimonies of the people involved, and the church itself, as outsiders look on.
Because it can affect not only the people involved, but the entire congregation.

The two ladies that I'm talking about lived over two thousand years ago. People are still talking about them (and learning from them, I hope) today. We meet them in the final chapter of Philippians:
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Philippians 4:2-3)

Let's go back and lay the groundwork for this letter, and for Paul's plea to these ladies to "make up." Do you recall when we studied Lydia? She was a "seller of purple," a wealthy lady who was the foundation of the church in Philippi. This is the church that began as a prayer meeting by the river, and grew into a thriving, passionate church.
Paul was writing to the church here primarily to thank the congregation for a recent gift.
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need.17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. (Philippians 4:10,15-18)
One of the folks from that congregation, Epaphroditus, had gone to visit Paul (to deliver their gift to him). He had become very ill, but was now recovered sufficiently to travel home, so Paul penned his letter to the church and asked Epaphroditus to carry it with him.
But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me. (Philippians 2:25-30)

In his letter to Philippi, Paul stressed unity, self-sacrifice, respect, humility, and more. Here's an example from chapter two:
then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:2-4)

Then, finally, in the fourth chapter, he "names names." Ouch. That packs a punch, doesn't it?  He was concerned enough about the contention between these two women, that Paul addressed it in a letter that he knew would be read aloud to the church!

Think he was too harsh?
Think he did just right?
We'll learn more as we study this week! Hope you will join us!

1 comment:

Katie Isabella said...

Now this will be very interesting!!!!