Summary: As we look at Paul's instructions for Euodia and Syntyche and how they can get along, we also can learn about how to get along with others and how to help others get along with each other.
A. Let’s start today’s sermon with an old poem I really like called “The Perfect Church”
I think that I shall never see, A Church that’s all it ought to be;
A Church whose members never stray, Beyond the Strait and Narrow way;
A Church that has no empty pews, Whose Preacher never has the blues,
A Church whose Deacons always deak, And none is proud, and all are meek.
Where gossips never peddle lies, Or make complaints or criticize;
Where all are always sweet and kind, And all to other’s faults are blind.
Such perfect Churches there may be, But none of them are known to me.
But still, we’ll work, and pray and plan, To make our own the best we can.
B. Because churches are made up of imperfect human beings, there has never been and will never be a perfect church on earth.
1. When we think of the first churches in the New Testament times, we might mistakenly think that they were perfect churches.
a. We might think that because many of those church members had personally seen Jesus, they knew the apostles, they were witnesses of great miracles, and that this would lead to heaven on earth, right?
b. Wrong, that just wasn’t the case.
2. When we read the letters of Paul, Peter and John in the NT, we begin to see that the early Christians and churches faced the same temptations, failures and problems that we face.
3. The important thing for those early churches and for our churches today is to properly work through those problems with the wisdom and power of God.
4. It is God’s will for churches to strive toward unity, because it is vital to the health and the growth of the church.
a. Nothing will destroy the church and its mission quite like internal division.
5. My aim today is to challenge us and to hopefully enable us to live and work in harmony.
6. Let’s take our lesson today from Paul’s example of how he addressed a dispute that was taking place in the church at Philippi.
7. Let’s start by looking at the problem.
I. The Problem
A. Our text for today begins with these words: Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! (Phil. 4:1)
1. There’s no doubt how Paul felt about these folks, right?
a. They were his dear friends, his brothers and sisters, his joy, his crown, the people he loved and longed for!
b. Can anyone communicate any more affectionately than that?
2. I find it interesting and instructive to note that Paul was often careful to communicate in this positive, up-building way in his letters when he was about to be corrective.
a. I think it is important to put things in perspective before we have to say something difficult to hear.
b. We might say, “I need to say something that may be difficult for you to hear, but I want you to keep in mind that I love you, and I want only what is best for you.”
3. Paul’s statement “that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends” certainly looks backward to the preceding verses, but I am sure it also looks forward to the next part of Paul’s letter as well.
B. With that verse as an introduction and a foundation, Paul then addressed the problem directly.
1. He wrote: 2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. 3 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. (Phil. 4:2-3)
2. Amazingly, we know nothing more about the situation than what this brief verse says about it.
3. From this verse, we learn that there were two women at Philippi who were at odds with each other.
a. Euodia and Syntyche were traditionally female names in Paul’s day.
4. We don’t know what the disagreement was about, but the disagreement must have been significant with far-reaching ramifications, otherwise Paul would not have made the correction so public.
C. So, who were these women who were struggling to get along with eachother?
1. Perhaps they were among the original group who were converted at Philippi (Acts 16:13-15).
a. Perhaps they were ladies who took their turn hosting the church in their homes.
b. They were certainly women who were important to the work at Philippi, for Paul described them as having contended at his side in the cause of the gospel.