“Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and my crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, 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.” Philippians 4:1-3
Anyone who has ever been a part of a local church, regardless of the denomination, or the church polity has had the experience of applying healing salve between two saints who keep rubbing each other the wrong way. Unfortunately, often it is not received well, and time does not heal all wounds. Left to their own personal preferences, saints have the capacity to leave thick callouses and ugly scars on The Body of The Bride of Christ.
My parents spent a small fortune trying to turn me into a musician. I was the odd one. My two brothers and my sister are gifted musicians. I was supposed to get with the program. Piano lessons, trumpet lessons, and guitar after guitar didn’t ever take hold. Still, I learned a lot and have a deep appreciation for music.
The greatest lesson learned had to do with the idea of harmony. This is the concept of people singing different notes off of the same music score. It makes a blended sound that is pleasing to the ear and soothing to the soul. There is a unity in the score, but it contains different notes being sung or played at the same time. When the musicians follow the direction of the conductor and stand firm on the notes as written on the score, the miracle of harmony takes place.
Harmony is not based on everyone singing the same note. On the contrary, it is essential in four-part harmony that singers or instrumentalist hit different notes, not each other. At the same time there must be a willingness to defer to the director’s guidance, and to resist the temptation of personal preference. The center of attention is the score, not one’s own note. Harmony is all about being a part of a team, not a soloist or a diva.
Paul did not urge or exhort these two church ladies to agree with one another. He was calling on them to defer to one another. There is a difference between “Die heretic!” and “You may be right.” The first leads to annihilation. The second leaves room for cooperation between two different opinions.
In that room is where the light is shed, on the subject, rather than bloodshed between two opinions. It may appear to be a minute change in the use of language, but in this small room deadly foes can be disarmed into friends with differences of opinions. Using the right words, like hitting the right notes, makes a difference, but it is a BIG difference. Before you say it, pray it. It helps.
The early church was not immune from differences of opinion. From its inception the members of The Body of Christ have had the capacity to create friction between one another. It is unlikely that “Me First” Fever or “I” problems in The Body will ever be completely eradicated this side of Heaven. Still, they must not be ignored. They must be treated.
Paul called his followers, “my beloved,” and “my joy and crown,” a “true companion”, and “fellow workers.” These words suggest mutual intimacy, interaction, and intentions. The key to these relationships was mutual submission.
Perhaps nothing expresses the relationship of the members of The Body of Christ, quite like mutual submission. Mutually submitting to each other’s rights is always a sign of the work of the Spirit in a marriage, a family, a friendship or a fellowship. People who have to get their own way rarely get along with others.
“Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” Ephesians 5:21
It is this mutual submission that reveals the evidence of the filling of The Spirit. This filling is the hope of every significant relationship that exists in the church. Families, friendships, and fellowship, at their very core, are expressions of mutual submission, not mutual admiration.
Paul mentioned two women by name that needed to live in harmony with one another and to “ stand firm in the Lord.” Their disharmony was based on standing up for their own rights, but they were not in good standing or right fellowship with Jesus. Being wrong with each other led to being wrong with Him. Their disharmony was significant enough to have an imprisoned Paul take note of this danger to the local church. He urged them to get their act together, and “stand firm in the Lord,” and not to step on one another.
Being of the same mind meant singing off the same song sheet. The Spirit of The Living Christ writes the music. Not everyone sings the same note, but they all sing the same score. When people don’t know the score, they have a tendency to make it up as they go along. It never leads to harmony.
Paul’s exhortation was not a polite suggestion, or an educated opinion. He pleaded for mutual submission between the two women. His concern was not for their education, but inspiration, and application. Those who loved them were challenged to hold them accountable to it.
Note to self: Being full of yourself leaves little room for being filled with The Spirit. Guess which one needs to decrease, and which one needs to increase? You only get one guess. This is an open book test. See Ephesians 5:18
“Be filled with The Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18
Prayer first leads the prayer warrior to a death to self, not to the death of his enemies. Prayer shouldn’t end until the prayer warrior comes to the end of his own personal rights. Prayer empties the self-inflated heart of personal preferences and presumed rights and makes room in the prayer warrior’s heart for a fresh filling of The Spirit. The Spirit of The Living Christ empowers a prayer warrior with the character of Christ to look out for the rights of others, more than his own rights. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!