Thursday, February 3, 2022
In all the previous studies on joy from Philippians we have seen how joy is produced. Paul now switches his approach and uses joy to produce something else. Let’s see what it is.
Philippians 4:2-7 “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The discovery of what joy produces begins with a less than harmonious relationship between two women – Euodia and Syntyche. There seems to be a spat going on and the two women cannot reach a unified agreement about it. It is hurting the joy quotient of the church. Paul challenges the other members of the church to get involved in resolving the conflict, and he says the starting point for the fix is to rejoice. It is hard to be in disagreement with someone else when the focus is turned to rejoicing about our salvation. Try it! Next time you are in an argument with your spouse or friend, stop and ask them to join you in praising God for your salvation that Jesus paid for with His life on the cross. Whatever you’re arguing about loses its importance pretty fast, doesn’t it? Rejoicing in the Lord is the starting point of healing disharmony and disunity.
The second step in healing hurts is to be seen as gentle. Jesus describes Himself as gentle, and the word means to be humble and lowly. The idea here is that each of these women should not be so quick to want to get their point across but rather that they should learn to listen to the other and respect their opinion. Gentle is a word that describes true love in action – considering others better than yourself and putting their needs ahead of your own. That is what was needed as the next step towards unity.
The third step in the healing process when there is dissension is to not get so anxious and overly excited when things don’t seem to be going your own way. Instead, turn it over to the Lord in prayer, being thankful that you have the privilege of doing that. It is when we submit all of the outcomes to God that he brings us to a place of peace and gives us His peace that passes all understanding. These women may not truly understand one another, and may not accept the other’s viewpoint, but in prayer God will grant a peace that passes up that lack of understanding and guards our hearts and minds against sinful thoughts and behaviors towards another person.
On the road to unity, peace begins at the intersection of rejoicing and humility. How can we truly rejoice in the Lord unless we are humble, recognizing that all we are and all we have is from Him? We can’t. So when we rejoice, we pave the road with peace, and unity results.
Rejoice in the Lord! And again I say: Rejoice!