One of the first churches Paul established was in Philippi. The members of this church greatly helped Paul in spreading the gospel. While Paul was in jail waiting for his sentencing, he was made aware that the church in Philippi was struggling with maintaining unity. Paul wrote a letter to the Philippians declaring his love, joy and gratitude for the church and also his desire to see it overcome and prosper. He specifically went on to admonish two women named Euodias (her name meaning to help on the road; to succeed) and Syntyche (her name meaning to chance together; companionship). These virtuous women were greatly esteemed because they directly worked with Paul in helping to spread the gospel, but fell short and were now at odds with one another.
“Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. 2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. 4 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:1-4
Undoubtedly, disagreements will arise. They may begin small, but, if left unresolved, can grow into a permanent rift that not only affects the disagreeing parties, but the entire church also. Paul’s short exhortation packs a powerful lesson for all Israel to learn, especially for us women, about addressing division and maintaining unity in the church.
Those that diligently do the work of the Lord serve as an example to those congregants that are new and without. Since Paul held Euodias and Syntyche with such high esteem, obviously they were women that younger sisters could look up to, making their contention even more harmful to the church body.
“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.” Colossians 4:5
You may ask how can a contention between two members harm the entire church body?
A famous quote comes to mind that can simply explain the answer to this question: “Two tablespoons of machine oil can contaminate an entire ship’s fresh water supply.” One ship can hold thousands upon thousands of gallons of fresh water and just 2 tablespoons can spoil the entire supply…that is the magnitude of the power of the contention of two against the church body!
Let us examine this a bit further and truly understand the environment produced by such contention. First, people are going to start wondering what’s going on and that alone may open doors for murmuring and tale bearing. Members that are close to both parties in disagreement will feel uncomfortable speaking to one and not the other, they will feel like they have to pick sides. New congregants will think those in the truth are no different than those in the world. Children observing adults acting this way will learn to do the same. If you let the ill feelings simmer long enough, they will turn to hatred! Eventually, it will cause many to fall away from the truth and leave the church.
Because Paul addressed both women, it is clear that both needed to change. Both needed to let go of their pride and truly resolve the issue.
What was Paul’s solution?
“…that they be of the same mind in the Lord.” Philippians 4:2.
That we be of ONE mind like Christ was with His Father:
“I and my Father are one.” John 10:30.
Why would it be important to be of one mind, to be UNIFIED?
“24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked. 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” I Corinthians 12:24-26.
Paul also summoned the church as a body to help Euodias and Syntyche:
“And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel….” Philippians 4:3
As a church body, we have a responsibility to help each other because we too will need that help one day.
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Galatians 6:1.
Building and nurturing a church body, especially a sisterhood, is not easy. There will be shortcomings and afflictions. But each of us were hand-picked by the Father and Christ and it is our duty to make that which is theirs to flourish as ONE to glorify them:
“4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.” Romans 15:4-7.
Two minds break the church. One mind in the Lord makes the church unbreakable.
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Psalms 133:1