1 Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.
2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.
3 Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentle spirit be know to all men. The Lord is near.
Sometimes, we become blind to the context of scriptural commands. Here's one that recently caught my eye.
Paul is finishing up his letter to the Philippians, a book that I preached through a number of years ago under the title, Refuse to Live Without Joy. We tend to think of verse 4 as Paul moving on to a different topic but verse 5 makes it clear that Paul has never left the topic of unity and harmony in the body, especially as it relates to two women having a difficult time getting along.
- Stand firm in the Lord. (1)
- Euodia and Syntyche, this means you too (2)
- Live in harmony in the Lord. (2)
- The rest of you, help them. (3)
- Rejoice. (4)
- Be gentle with all (5)
- Remember, the Lord is near (5)
For many of us, the point that seems out of place is verse 4. ("One of these is not like the others.") What does joy and rejoicing, and doing that at all times, have to do with standing firm, living in harmony, getting over grievances, helping struggling saints, being gentle and remembering that "the Lord is near"?Answer: Everything.
There is a stunning power to reminding your soul what you have to rejoice in, at all times, and especially in the midst of disappointment and hurt. Euodia and Syntyche are two women from the first century whose disharmony was becoming something of an open scandal in the church of Phillipi. Paul goes to the extraordinary lengths of naming them publicly in a letter to the entire church. And at the heart of his admonition to them to get over whatever it is that divides them is the twice repeated command to "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice!"
Reminding our souls of what we share in the Lord is a powerful balm to all hurts, slights, misjudgments, injuries, sorrows and pains. There is a stunning power in making a choice to rejoice in what I share with the brother or sister who has hurt me rather than nursing the memory of how they hurt me.
"Lord Jesus, help me to obey You and to forget the hurts and embrace the joy of reconciliation. Help me to be a reconcilor. The love and harmony of Your people is more important than my being understood, agreed with, or vindicated. So help me Lord to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." (2 Cor. 10:5) Make me radically, overwhelmingly willing to forgive, like the You told us the Father is willing to forgive us in the parable of the prodigal. Make me a celebrator of reconciliation. O Lord, do this in my life for Your glory, my joy and the joy of the entire body. Amen."