I urge Euodia and I urge Syntche to live in harmony in the Lord.
When I was a kid growing up, we had lots of cats. I remember one in particular. His name was Smokey… and he LOVED to fight. He would often come home with scabs and gnawed ears because he was always looking to “throw down” with any cat in the neighborhood. Although I never saw him in a fight, I heard him on occasion fighting with other cats late at night in our yard. The sound was horrific! Interestingly, we never really loved on Smokey much because he was pretty gross – always cut up, scabbed over and missing fur.
There were two ladies in the church at Philippi that were like Smokey – Euodia and Syntche (and you think you have a bad name!). They were in a catfight… and God was grieved that they had not yet worked it out. They were both His children, yet they were at odds with each other.
As a dad, I hate it when my girls are fighting with each other. It hurts my heart and causes great unrest in our home. It does the same thing in the family of God, causing resentment, bitterness, the choosing of sides, the disintegration of fellowship and the tarnishing of a witness for Christ. Non-Christians are drawn by our love for one another… they are repelled by our fighting with one another.
BUT THEY STARTED IT!
What do you do when you find yourself hurt and wounded by another person, especially a brother or sister in the Lord? How do you get things right when you may very well have been so wronged?
1. See the problem from the other person’s perspective. No rift is EVER 100% the other person’s fault. Paul urged both Euodia and Syntche to live in harmony. He urged them both because they were BOTH at fault. Since that was true, they needed to try to understand (the word harmony means “to have understanding”) where the other was coming from and see what hurt they may have caused that person by their action, inaction or reaction. Put on the other’s shoes for awhile and see it from their perspective.
2. Take 100% responsibility for your part of the problem. Even if you are only 10% at fault, take 100% responsibility for your 10%. Healing and reconciliation come when you and I take ownership of our part of the catfight and fully apologize and seek forgiveness.
3. Pray for that other person. I have found that the best way to avoid bitterness is to faithfully pray for the person who hurt me. If I apologize, and they do not accept it, that is their business. All I can do is continue to pray for them and for healing in our relationship. At that point, I can know that my heart is right with God, and I have done all I could do to bring about restoration. Remember what the Scripture says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18). Sadly, sometimes it is not possible because they will not forgive you.
Are there some “Smokey” relationships in your life? Do not let another day go by before you take the initiative to make things right. You will be amazed at how the joy and peace of the Lord will flood your heart when you do all you can to restore your broken relationships. Let me know what the Lord does as you trust Him and take a step of faith in this vital area of family harmony.
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Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for almost 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls.
Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry.
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