THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9
SCRIPTURE: PHILIPPIANS 4
As the chapter opens we learn that the church in Philippi was not without problems. It seems that a couple of women, Euodia and Syntyche, were not in agreement. In other words, they were in an argument about something. Interestingly enough, these two women who were on different sides of the issue once worked side by side.
There are a couple of important principles here to consider. One, sometimes best friends make the best enemies. Those that we are closest to, know the most about us. And sometimes when the friendship is soured that information is used as weapons. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have good friends that we do lots of stuff with. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be transparent and open with those closest to us. It does mean that maintaining friendships takes a lot of commitment and work. Friendships are worth that effort for a lot of reasons.
Another important principle that we learn from Euodia and Syntyche is that there are always issues in every church. As good of a church as the one in Philippi was, it was not perfect. It was not perfect because it was made up of imperfect people. And about the only thing imperfect people can do perfectly is mess stuff up.
Paul knew that the witness of the church could be damaged by two people in the church that were fighting and fussing. By the way, that is still very true today. So, Paul asked that the disagreement be solved. As much as most of us try to avoid conflict, facing conflict in the church head on and resolving it at all costs is sometimes the very thing that must be done.
Right on the heels of the issue between the two women, Paul breaks out into some of his most famous words. “Rejoice in the Lord always”. As good as that sounds and as right as that it is, always rejoicing in the Lord can be a difficult thing. So, Paul actually gives us some things to do to get to that point.
First, in verse 5, we need to remember that the Lord is near. Regardless of how bad or difficult things are, we not alone. We have not been orphaned. The Lord is near to us.
Second, in verse 8, we need to focus on the right things. Dwelling on the bad stuff is not helpful. In fact, when we do that it makes the bad stuff look bigger and worse than it is. Instead we should focus on the good things, the right things, the admirable things of life.
Third, in verses 10-13, Paul teaches us that our joy is not found in our circumstances. Indeed in whatever circumstances we might find ourselves in, there is the privilege of rejoicing in the Lord. As Paul says in verse 13, Jesus is able to strengthen us to get us through whatever it is that we find ourselves in.
As Paul brings this letter to a close he is very direct in thanking the Philippians for their help. They had provided financial support for him that allowed him to continue to spread the Gospel. We should never doubt that our generosity always has a positive impact on the world around us.