R&R: Paul’s Remedy for Relational Conflict

ONFLICT isn’t fun. But it isn’t optional either. It appears there was some conflict brewing between a couple ladies in Philippi. Paul brought it up in his letter to the church there.

Paul encourages Euodia and Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Apparently there was something going on that challenged their partnership in ministry. It must have disrupted community life as it is one of the occasions when Paul calls someone out by name. Check it out:

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:2-7)

Paul follows his plea for these two believers to agree with the encouragement to rejoice and be reasonable. It seems these qualities are important for unity. When we rejoice with others, we are willing to celebrate their strengths and successes without being blinded by our own jealousy and pettiness. Sometimes we need help to do this, which is exactly what Paul asks the believers to do, to “help these women, who have labored side by side.”

Paul is highlighting the nature of their partnership in the gospel as a way of encouraging them towards unity. In rejoicing, they can lay aside less important differences. There are bigger things that unite us than that seek to divide us. This is cause for joy.

Paul also says their reasonableness should be known to everyone. We could use a good dose of that on “Evangelical Twitter” these days. Some are known for being overtly, explicitly, unreasonable. Forget context. Forget giving the benefit of the doubt. Forget charity. Find a good sound bite and hit it hard. Go for the retweet count and push people to your podcast and YouTube subscriptions.

My fellow believers, this should not be so. Let’s be reasonable. And charitable. And together, let’s rejoice. Let’s advance the gospel together, overlooking lesser things for the greatest thing, the unstoppable power of God. That’s the gospel. And of this gospel, may we never be ashamed.