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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Just a Brief Mention in the Bible

It's only a brief mention.

But it's a brief mention in The Bible. Not exactly the mention they'd have hoped for those ladies, 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!"

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."
Philippians 4:2-3

I'm fascinated with these women of the Bible who reveal themselves amidst the pages, if only we'll take the time to discover them. What fascinates me most is that they are WOMEN, just as we are. Sure, they were living 2,000 years ago, but the stories they reveal are our stories.

Take 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. We know that they were instrumental in this new church in Macedonia. But as we all know, women have a tendency...

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.

OUCH!

If they had access to cable news, I'm sure that this would have made the ticker along the bottom of the screen. It's big enough for Paul to call them out.

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. Smart man that Paul was! 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?

Ever find yourself in a hurtful situation? 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.

Divisions, as we all know, can tear apart families, 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 everyday.

We see it in our families, and sadly it seems to surface even more at the holidays when we come together. It's in those times that gossip and petty differences can wiggle their way into what should be a time of peaceful, beautiful memories. Instead, it's interrupted by these conflicts that can consume us. As women, we need to take the advice of Paul this season and become peacemakers.

I know, there are sighs going up around the blogosphere as women read....

"You want me to do what??"
"You haven't met my brother-in-law!"
"I've tried being the peacemaker, and I'm done."

Paul continues on in this chapter to remind us, Euodia and Syntyche, and each of us reading today. 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. It's an opportunity.... the SAME opportunity that it was then, an opportunity to love each other. “Conflict is an opportunity for us to love each other.”

"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."
Philippians 4:4-9

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.

We are standing on the edge of the holidays. Most of us are working hard for His Kingdom and yet we find ourselves in relationships just like Euodia and Syntyche experienced. Take the urging from Paul to resolve it this holiday season. 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. It will mean some serious praying and letting go, but the issues are not going to resolve themselves. 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.

So as we move into a holiday season that can have us facing challenging relationships, we pray:

Father,

Thank you for speaking to us through the voices of those who have walked before us. Help me to gain wisdom and understanding as I read your Word. Help me to resolve any conflicts in my own life and to be a peacemaker where you need me to be. I know that conflicts distract me from the complete LOVE that you give. Father I ask that you help me to live as your son Jesus did, ever the peacemaker. As we move into this holiday season, help me to always rejoice and be patient with those I share these times with. Help me to focus on the positives and not dwell in negativity, which is often so easy to do in my humanness. Father, help me to move on in obedience, knowing that you are with me each and every step of the way. As I ask all of these things, I thank you that you always hear my heart's prayers. As I await the arrival of your Son's birth, I cling to these promises.

Amen

May the peace of the season be yours in renewed and reconciled relationships.







Join Lori daily at her personal blogspot, where she can be found learning each day from the women who have walked before us.









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9 Comments:

Blogger Denise said...

You always touch my heart, thank you.

November 20, 2008 at 1:26 AM  
Blogger Betsy Markman said...

Lots of good stuff here. What struck me most was people saying, "I've tried being a peacemaker, and it doesn't work." I guess the truth of that depends on how we define whether something "works" or not. Our efforts at peacemaking may not work with that individual, but do they show the character of Christ to a lost world? If so, then they're "working" whether people respond or not. And we never know how our obedience is affecting those who might be watching from the sidelines.

Good post!

November 20, 2008 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger LauraLee Shaw said...

I can attest firsthand to the difference being a peacemaker or a peacekeeper makes in the heart of a family. A ministry. A community.

It's interesting when you look at the fruit of the spirit, all of them go into this very issue:
Without unconditional love, we see the sinner not the sin.
Without joy, we see the negative.
Without peace, we live in discontenment.
Without patience, we're petty.
Without kindness, we're insensitive.
Without goodness, we're self-absorbed.
Without faithfulness, we'll find a new friend (or church, or place to go)
Without gentleness, we hit people over the head with our opinions.
Without self-control, our words fly like arrows, and our actions land a bullseye right in their heart.

Wow, I'm so thankful for this reminder today, as we're about to approach some really "unpeaceful" situations in our families over the holidays. I needed the nudge.

November 20, 2008 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger TCKK said...

Thank you, I needed that.

November 20, 2008 at 11:10 AM  
Blogger Blind Mom said...

Thank you I love what you posted. It touched me so very much

November 20, 2008 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Angie said...

This was right on target! Especially with the holidays nearing...family gathering...bickering (or for some it is) I have been blessed---The Lord reigns supreme in our homes, but I realize that is not always so in everyone's heart/home.

We do have a choice...like you said, allow HIM to use us to demonstrate love, peace forgiveness, etc in conflict---or ELSE. Flesh is bad. Anyway you look at it.

YOU are so WISE!!! Now, send me a picture of you in the t-shirt...with the NEW hair color?

I love you!!!

November 20, 2008 at 4:17 PM  
Blogger Truly Blessed said...

Awesome post, my friend.
Love,
M

November 21, 2008 at 5:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So very true. We have to many "right" thinkers. We forget that being right is not one of the gifts of the spirit.

God Bless you.
Gery Vandenhaak

November 21, 2008 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger Carmen said...

Amen Sista-Friend!
You know, there is such freedom in desiring to be righteous, rather than to merely be right.

LORD, help us love people past their performances - good, bad or indifferent - just the way You love us and completely forgave ALL our sins before we even committed one of them...

Beautiful tribute, Lori, to the SHALOM HE IS!

November 21, 2008 at 10:49 AM  

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