Two Women

In Philippians 4:2-3 Paul very succinctly deals with an apparent squabble between two women in the church: 
“I plead with Euodia and I plead with Synteche to be of the same mind in the Lord.  Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help those women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my coworkers, whose names are in this book of life.”
Evidently, the fallout between these two women was serious enough for Paul to address in the manner he did.  The apostle knew that such dissension could bring church division.  Unfortunately, as sick as it may sound, some thrive on drama.  Their lives are drama-driven!
Details are sketchy but we do know that both women were leaders in the church at Philippi.  He further recognized that both women needed a third party to help them move past their disagreement.  They needed an arbitrator.  Yes, saved people at times refuse to die to self when engaged in relationship battles.
I read this brief passage and I think back to times of church division in my pastoral ministry.  Unfortunately, some pastors believe the solution rests solely on prayer and that’s a good starting place.  Many times, however, such contentions need to be confronted firmly and with tough love.  When disagreements escalate beyond resolution, church leaders must take corrective action.  Such was the case with Euodia and Synteche.
At Hope Community Church I keep my ears to the ground when it comes to church conflict.  The enemy (Satan) wants nothing more than to divide the work of God.  He has a bag of tricks. One includes individuals becoming offended or at odds with one another.  Following are precautionary issues that I look for when two or more individuals experience relationship fallout.
Please note:  Men too, experience interpersonal conflicts.
1.  Obviously, whatever their bone of contention, Euodia and Synteche were causing church-wide unrest.  Two people in conflict may subsequently try to make their problem a church issue.  This I guard against tenaciously.  They talk to others in the church to build a case in their defense.  In Proverbs 6:19 the author relates one of seven things that God hates is “one who sows discord among the brothers.”  This is not about taking sides; it’s about two people owning up to their own sins, and relationship failures.
2.   Paul knew that Euodia and Synteche, because of their widespread influence, might look for others to join them in their “cause.”  Nothing good ever comes from taking up the offenses of others.  Did you know that all of us carry influence?  And did you know that we use our influence to either hurt or bless the cause of unity?  Don’t pick up offenses!  Instead, pray for restitution among the quarreling parties.  And whatever you do, please be careful not to add fuel to the fires of contention.  Be a peacemaker not a troublemaker!
3.  We say that Hope Community is a “No Drama Church.”  In other words, we ask people to not make their private issues public.  Of course, we want to pray for the needs of people, but we insist that personal issues be taken to the Lord in prayer on a confidential basis.  The church lobby, small group, or social media is not the place to perpetuate drama.  Some individuals talk too much and tell too much. Daily drama sucks the life out of people and gives the enemy constant access into their situations.  I personally despise it when believers use Facebook to air their dirty laundry. Such posting brings reproach on the gospel.  Don’t give the devil opportunity to implode your drama.  Are you a “Drama Queen or King?”  Then abdicate your throne today!
4.  Euodias and Synteche were leaders in the local church.  Paul knew that leaders often disqualify themselves from effective ministry when they engage in church division, on-going drama or taking up others’ offenses. That’s why he tells them to “be of the same mind in the Lord.”  Leaders and people in general often forget that negative perception can disqualify them from future ministry opportunities.  Are you a leader?  Ask yourself, “How am I perceived by others?”
5.  Something in human nature rallies us to immediately take sides when others experience fallout.  This is dangerous.  Always remember:  there’s one side, the other side and then the right side.  Individuals who determine to get involved in the offenses of others always seem to search for weak links in the church – immature, emotionally broken people – to perpetuate their offenses.  We at Hope Community keep our eyes peeled for such shenanigans. This is what we refer to as “dirty pool.”
6.   Finally, all of us are subject to relationship fallout.  Paul’s direct appeal to Euodias and Synteche suggests that we are never beyond correction when emotions and actions escalate.  We must at all costs protect the integrity of the gospel. Damage control always becomes necessary when believers refuse to righteously resolve their issues.  At Hope we watch and pray against such goings-on and are determined to confront anything that hurts the forward momentum God has given us.  



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