Summary: What are the dangers of disagreements in the church and how do we deal with them? This sermon follows the roles of the three ’characters’ in this passage: Paul, ’Euodia & Syntyche’ and Syzgus

Dealing with disagreement. Philipp 4:1-3 WBC 12/03/06am

Fantastically useful, practical and real passage this morning.

I want to take you through it- through the three main characters in it


He’s the one with the birds-eye view in this… and he starts by saying

PHP 4:1 Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!

Now- it’s hard to tell if this is

- closure on ch 3- standing firm by following his example

- what he is about to explain to them. Standing firm in the Lord by being united- and allowing no chink in the armour

Truth is it doesn’t matter

He really waxes lyrical about how much he loves them. More than almost anywhere else. Why?

- well- they are in for a rebuke, challenge from him

o people need to KNOW they are loved FIRST to receive any such thing

o need to be in the right frame of mind to HEAR

- any rebuke must COME from love

o there are traditions of rebuke that just don’t work, perhaps because they don’t come from love or are not shown/preceded by love

o Illustr: one of the candidates we interviewed for YP. Spoke a lot of how he had been rebuked, and rebuked the youth (and was kind of proud of it- in a spiritual way, not nasty way). I realised it was because he was from a certain kind of Pentecostalism where you "needed your daily rebuke" part of their ’heritage’. Like ’ a rebuke a day keeps the devil away’. (but doesn’t work if it’s not needed or done for love)

So, he genuinely describes them as those he loves and longs for (to see)… how they are his joy and crown

- they make him happy

- they are the festive garland on his head (sign of joy) OR

- victor’s wreath. Fruit of his victorious labours- and a jewel in his crown when he gets to heaven. His reward

o they have made all his labour worthwhile, not in vain. They are so special to him

Well- Paul’s the one who brings the situation to light and is about to blow the cover on it. What situation? What can we learn from it?

- two important folks were quarrelling

- it had to be worked out

- and it happened. In the early church. In the ’good old apostolic days’

o they had issues/people just like us. It’s not the end of the world. Nothing unusual. Can be worked out

" Paul knew this as he was working it out with Barnabas (over John-Mark, Acts 15)

Maybe you are like Paul- you know about a situation that needs dealing with?


Here’s the next character (s!)

- these two ladies. Both Christians. "names in the book of life"

- good, committed folks. Godly folks. "fellow workers"

o had worked with Paul (don’t know how)

o loved by Paul

They’ve had a bust-up. Quarrelled. Fallen out. Big-time

- I’ve seen it happen! Two VERY godly friends of mine. Over something quite small. Were best friends

Can see why it tears Paul apart

- and might THEM… and the church. Which is another reason why he addresses it. For the greater good

o Illustr: we’ve seen that happen, too. Churches split. People leave, lose faith… and unbelievers look on and the name of the Lord is defamed because of it.

o "By this will all men know…"- well, the opposite happens!

You can see- it’s a big issue. In fact, maybe the biggest. 9/10 issues in employment are relational

He addresses it, and the Bible does. It gives "rules of engagement"

- states these things must be dealt with.

o Not by hiding, burying them, avoiding them. Not by ’weak love’

o Not even by ’confrontation’ (some like that)

o But by dealing with them- in a loving, firm and right way

- It states dealing with these things is more important than worship… can hinder your worship

MT 5:23 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

- And Jesus gave directions on how to deal with it. mat 18. Start small. Deal with it privately. One on one. But get help if that doesn’t work. (it’s all very respectful, actually)

MT 18:15 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that `every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

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