Jump Start # 2638
Philippians 4:2 “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.”
I have always found this verse interesting and felt a bit embarrassed for these two sisters. Something wasn’t going right between them. They were “out of harmony.” The footnote tells us that they were to be of the ‘same mind.’ They were different minded. They had differences of perspectives, opinions and how things ought to be done. Not being on the same page, has spilled into a real problem. The church knew about it. Now, an apostle knew about it. Paul doesn’t tell us what the problem was about. He doesn’t take sides. He doesn’t tell one to apologize to the other. All he says is for them to be of the same mind.
This is the same thing Paul told the Corinthians in his first letter to them. They were divided on many issues. Things were not going well. Paul’s words there tell them to agree and be of the same mind. Same mind. Thinking alike. Thinking the same. After a couple has been married for some time they get that way. My wife can order food for me in a restaurant, because she knows what I like. I can tell you if she’d like a certain movie or not.
What is interesting about our verse today is that Paul tells them to be of the same mind but he doesn’t tell them how. Just how do different minds become one? How do people with different opinions settle on one? How does a church develop the same mind? We know what a church looks like when it doesn’t have one mind. It’s scattered, messy, opinionated, divided and upset. This side verses that side. Power struggles. Fighting for control. Forgetting Jesus. It’s not easy having one mind.
First, there are some obvious ways it is not to be done. And, sadly, this is often the means people use to accomplish this today. It’s not the loudest voice. It’s not pressure. It’s not intimidating. The outward conclusion may seem like everyone is on the same page, but inside they are not. One side has been scared to change their ways. It’s not what they want, but they fear the consequences if they oppose. So, they go along because they are pressured and afraid.
I tend to think this is some of the tactics being used in society today to force changes that people want. Fearful of violence or worse, being labeled and accused, some are going on out of fear and intimidation. This usually doesn’t last. This is not one mind. This is not harmony.
Second, for there to be harmony and one mind, one must listen to the other side. We can get so worked up and be so sure that we are right that we leave no room for anyone to disagree. Disagreements, questions, asking for proof is never a wrong thing. The atmosphere needs to be pleasant, open and willing to discuss. When one side refuses to listen, consider, or even think about the other side, then harmony will never happen. Put proof on the table. Let’s look at it. No need for shouting. No need for lining up people on this side or that side. No need for threats or ugliness. Why do you feel the way you do?
Third, it often takes a third party to help iron out issues and keep everyone fair. A mediator, one who is impartial other than wanting to find a bridge for both to meet upon and cross over together is often necessary. The mediator must be agreed upon by both sides. Right there, things often break down. Can’t agree upon a mediator generally means a total breakdown of coming together will happen. Harmony is delicate. We can say and do things without realizing what we’ve just done hurt someone. We may not mean to leave some out, but we do. Hurt feelings. Feeling like one is not included, wanted or accepted can lead to breakdown in harmony.
Fourth, Satan wants us to be at odds with each other. He thrives on our differences and division. He loves hurt feelings. He wants us to neglect, abuse and wound each other. It doesn’t take too much of that for a person to leave. Division of a congregation is Satan’s great joy. Brethren who refuse to associate or talk to one another will keep harmony from every happening. And, often all it takes is something very little. It’s not the big things like false teaching, but the little things like not being invited to a party or someone’s get together and immediately ill feelings, bad tempers and negative spirits rise. Things are spread. Things are stretched out of proportion. And, now people won’t talk to each other. Years of worshipping together and friendship can crash that easily.
Fifth, harmony is always possible when we stand with the Lord and seek His will. No problem, no difference, no sin is so great that it can not be forgiven, worked through and differences healed. It can happen. But when pride, stubbornness and a bit of selfishness are mingled into the mess, then a major problem explodes. I can only imagine as the Philippian letter was read aloud and the reader came to our verse, what these two sisters thought. How embarrassing that their names were publically named. This problem had gone far enough. Paul was wanting it to stop. He wanted it to stop now. Get along. Be of the same mind. Be of one mind. Have that mind of Christ, that’s always the solution.
Our times are driving people, even brethren apart. Everyone has their own mind and that seems to suit society just fine. It doesn’t work well within a congregation. Try rowing a canoe in opposite directions. I did that once. We went in circles. It was funny. We didn’t plan to do that. We just weren’t in harmony. And, the same thing happens in a marriage, a family and a church when we are not in harmony. We just go around in circles.
Be of the same mind…it can be done.