Monday, 13 January 2014

Getting along with others {looking for the good}

Robert has been preaching through the book oh Philippians, for the last few months. I have really been enjoying it, as is it is full of both doctrine and practical teaching.

He came to one of my favourite Bible chapters this last Sunday - chapter 4.

It is jam packed full of verses that mean something special to me. It also has some verses that I had not thought so deeply upon.

Such as verses 1-3.

"Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.
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."

Now, confession is apparently good for the soul. So, here goes. I always thought Euodias and Syntyche were a husband and wife combo.


Apparently these are both women's names!

Who knew?

Probably everyone else in the world, and just not me.

What the apostle is alluding to here, are two women who were not seeing eye to eye. They were not getting along as they should be. How do I know? If they were being told to be of the same mind, then they were not OF the same mind to start with.  This implies division - maybe bickering - maybe unkindness. The usual things you expect from people who are not agreeing about something. `

Now, I don't think, for a moment, that Paul is suggesting that they needed to change their opinions about a particular subject, just so they thought the same thing. I think it's more about behaviour and attitudes. It's HOW they disagreed, perhaps.

It's certainly food for thought. Imagine, if you will, that you are in sitting in the Church in Philippi, and Paul's letter is being read to you all. You have all been loving the words he has written - a word from the Lord on many subjects. All building you up in your faith. Including quite a few general references to being of one mind.

They come to near the end, and suddenly these two ladies are named and shamed.


Mind you, more often than not, in a Church, if two people are not getting along everyone knows about it anyway.

But to be publicly reprimanded by the apostle, and ultimately by the Lord himself, who inspired the writer, must have been quite a humbling experience.

However, look how it is written. It's in a "positive sandwich". You know, where you say something good, then the negative thing, then something good again? Sandwiching the not-so-good in the middle of the oh-so-pleasant. It's a well known technique used in many fields, but don'tcha know, it was in the Bible first!

Look at Paul's wonderful words in verse 1. He speaks in such endearing terms to the people in Philippi.


"dearly beloved"

"Longed for"



What a lovely way to address them! Such love and joy in those words - such a bond in the spirit. Precious indeed.

Then, he tells these two ladies about getting along. They receive their public dressing-down.

Then, Paul carries on in a positive vein. He points out that these women had laboured with him in the gospel - perhaps in witnessing to the lost, or with something practical in the Church. We don't need to know. We just know that they HAD been doing something good and right. Paul then tells the rest of the Church to help them. Whether that is practically, or in a spiritual sense, to help them be of the same mind, I don't know for sure. There are certainly many ways we CAN help each other.

These practical few verses got me thinking about our lives, as Christian women. It's ever so easy to fall out with others over so very little. Our friends, those in the Church, and even our family. When we don't see eye to eye (read "when others are wrong and we are right", because let's face it, that's often how we view it), we can become negative and sometimes even unkind. I think that having a bad attitude over a difference of opinion could definitely be classed as NOT being "of the same mind".

Where it is even easier to fall out - is - yup, on the internet. It's really hard to convey HOW you say something, and it's very easy to be misconstrued, or to misunderstand how and what someone else is saying.

So, how do we make sure we are "of the same mind"?

I think that the answer is "Love" and "grace". If we extend love and grace toward others, even  when we disagree with them, then we are not going to fall out. It's the old "agreeing to disagree", but making sure we do it in a loving and gracious way.

As much as Euodias and Syntyche were women, it IS also important in our marriages. We need to have our heart and mind in the same place, and make sure we are getting along, even if we have a difference of opinion. If we are "of the same mind" - showing love and grace - we will not have massive ding dongs when we disagree. We will, instead, respect each other enough, sprinkled with love and grace, to not fall out. It's the whole "but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves" concept. Other's opinions. Other's feelings. Other's hearts. Make sure that we seek not to destroy others, over an opinion or point of view, and nowhere more importantly than our marriages.

Paul, in verse 3, sets a good example of what we CAN do. We need to look for the good. Our sinful hearts incline towards to the opposite. It's oh-so-easy to find the faults in others. Instead, we need to find, and encourage, the good. Paul commends them for their labours in the gospel, and tells the rest of the Church to encourage them likewise.

Are there fellow believers in your life that you're struggling to get along with? Get your mind in the right place. Seek to have unity - "in the bond of peace". Plus, find something good about them. It may require a bit of hunting, but every believer SHOULD have something good about them, because the Spirit is at work in their lives.  Find that good thing, and not only be thankful for it, thank THEM for it, and encourage them in it. Don't dwell on what divides - find something to unite.

Whether it's your husband, your family, your work colleagues or people in your Church. Love them like "brethren" - and find the good, telling them how much you appreciate them. That will soon chase away any thoughts of disunity, and establish a "one-mind" behaviour.

Right, off to praise some good around here.

1 comment :

  1. This is lovely. Thank you for these good thoughts today.