It’s only a brief mention.
But it’s a brief mention in The Bible. Certainly not the mention they hoped for. Euodia and Syntyche. If they were here today, I’m sure that they would at least quietly mention that “all the work we did, and he mentions THIS!” They are considered ministry partners to Paul, who play a significant role in ministry, as do we.
If you are reading through Philippians, and you blink or sneeze, you’ll miss the mention of them.
It’s that brief.
“Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good news. They worked with Clement and the rest of my co-workers whose names are written in the Book of Life.”
These stories are our stories.
Euodia and Syntyche, it could be Lucy and Ethel, or you and I. What we know of them is that they BOTH have been encouraging and helpful to the Apostle Paul, engaged in active ministry. We know that they were instrumental in this new church in Macedonia. But as we all know, women have opinions and perhaps, at times a tendency, to disagree, emotionally process and sometimes cause the water to ripple.
You know what I mean. The tendency to let our differences get the best of us and threaten so much more than we ever intended. That is exactly what is revealed here in Philippians. We have no idea what they were arguing about, but it was significant enough that Paul mentions it in his letter to the whole church of Philippi. It sounds as if righteousness was trumped, at least to some degree by being right. OUCH. We see it played out ALL OVER SOCIAL MEDIA today and being right is dividing us as women.
We can assume that these ladies were each passionate and effective in their own rights. They had brought many to the church, but word of their disagreement reaches Paul in Rome. It disappoints him and he knows that the Christian community does not need this kind of division. He did not ignore the issue, he knew better than that. Instead, he urges them to reconcile.
Can we see ourselves in these two ladies so briefly mentioned in the Bible, but from whom we can glean so much wisdom? Sound remotely familiar in the climate we live in today?
Ever find yourself in a hurtful situation? Ever stood in disagreement with someone?
Situations of unresolved issues, anger, bitterness, and division. That is EXACTLY what these ladies were engaged in and it was starting to affect those around them, and although we have no way of knowing for certain, it was likely causing them each deep personal pain and was burdening their spirits. It was at the very least, a distraction.
Divisions, as we all know, can tear apart families, friends, churches, communities and even nations. We know that these women were good women. They were working hard for the Kingdom and now were in the middle of something that was going to cause divisiveness and conflict within the community.
We see it played out every, single day.
Paul continues on in this chapter to remind us, Euodia and Syntyche, and each of us reading today that conflict is our opportunity to demonstrate grace, love, mercy, patience and forgiveness. The forgiveness that Christ himself had, and the reality of His presence in our lives is our opportunity. It’s an opportunity to love each other. “Conflict is an opportunity for us to love each other.” We may not agree, but it does not have to divide.
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again. REJOICE! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember the Lord is coming soon.
Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ.And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure and lovely and admirable. Think about these things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all that you have learned and received from me~everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”
In this, Paul provides so eloquently the attitudes that we’ll need to change these circumstances.
We have to rejoice, (verse 4)
We’ll have to be patient (verse 5)
We’ll have to pray and pray some more (verse 6)
We’ll have to dwell on the positives and not the problems (verse 8)
We’ll have to move on in obedience(verse 9)
I’ve looked and looked again, and Paul mentions nothing about it being easy or self-centered.
Most of us are working hard for His Kingdom and yet we find ourselves in relationships similar to what Euodia and Syntyche experienced. Perhaps it’s not you who is directly involved in the conflict. Paul also calls on Syzygus (4:3) to “help him.”
Pray about how you can bring peace and healing to those around you.
It likely won’t be easy. In fact, given the argumentative and divisive climate we live in, it will be HARD. It will mean some serious praying and open conversations, but issues are not going to resolve themselves. Women, we need to be the voices who seek peaceful resolutions. We need to take the advice of Paul to be peacemakers who seek to reconcile and stop a cycle of division.
God’s women are a diverse group, exactly how HE designed it.
We come from varied backgrounds, races and economic, educational distinctions, political affiliations and denominations. We have unique tastes, styles and needs. It was designed that we would be different, with different perspectives and Jesus wants that to unite us as women.
How can such a diverse group have unity?
Only in God’s Spirit can we find the tie that binds us together.
The world needs us women to be peacemakers rather than dividers. We are living in an unprecedented time where everyone has an opinion and quite frankly it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous because it divides and that is NEVER part of the Jesus mission.
Jesus brought peace, love and understanding and unity even in the midst of chaotic rhetoric. Be assured, the enemy would LOVE to see women pitted against each other, he knows the power we have when we are united. God gave us diversity to be used for HIS good and glory and we can never accomplish what He would have us accomplish without unity, peace, understanding and love.
We are called to it.
Can we at least try?