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Scripture: Philippians 4:1-3 [p. 761]                                                                                                                                    September 24, 2023

Sermon: Conflict or Commitment?                                                                                                                             Pastor John Young


We return today to our ongoing study of the Book of Philippians.  Now, many of you will recall that the beginnings of the church at Philippi were down by the riverside, as it is recorded for us by Luke in Acts chapter 16.  Paul and his companions, in responding to the word of God, had gone into Macedonia and had made their way into Philippi.  Upon reaching Philippi they were to discover there was no synagogue there, but they went down by the river, and there found a group of women who were involved in praying together.  One of those women, Lydia by name, who was a worshipper of God, found the truth in her encounter with the apostles.  Her eyes were opened and she moved from being somebody who was devoutly interested in God to a lady who actually knew God.  As a result, she was transformed by the power of the Spirit of God and made a member of God’s family.  This is the kind of transformation every church should be pursuing, expecting and experiencing, as men and women who are worshippers of God (and actually quite interested in God) are finding their eyes opened to the truth, being converted and becoming members of God’s family.  This is what FBC needs to pursue with intention!  Nothing will energize a church more than spiritual transformation!

Now, Lydia is the only lady mentioned in Luke’s narrative (Acts 16 – p. 716), although the text tells us there were other women present (v. 13b – “the women which resorted thither”).  So, it is very possible—although we can’t be certain—that these two individuals who are mentioned in Philippians 4:2 [p. 761] were part of the original group down by the river.  Notice, if you would, their:

I.         COMMITMENT – v. 3

A.  They were Christians – their names were written in the “book of life.”

1.  The New Testament speaks of Christians in all kinds of ways and this is one example (“the book of life”).

2.  This phrase occurs eight times in the Bible and is connected with a person’s relationship with the Lord.

a.   Notice two passages (Revelation 20:12 & 15 – p. 802).

b.   The inference is that there is a record of when one renounces their sin and accepts Jesus as their Savior.  Their name is recorded in “the book of Life!”

B.  They were Committed Christians – “help those women which laboured with me in the gospel.”  There are many things that evidence commitment, but:

1.  One of the marks of committed Christians is their desire to share the gospel.

a.   Paul reminds us it should be our intentional goal – 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 [p. 749].

b.   Paul further encourages us not to get weary in the process – Galatians 6:9 [p. 756].

c.   Paul even states our ‘labor’ is never in vain – 1 Corinthians 15:58 [p. 746].

2.  These two ladies were committed Christians!

C.  They were Committed Christian Companions“fellowlabourers.”

1.  I.E., they were happy to be in the company of others who were equally committed!

a.   And, they did get along, or they wouldn’t have enjoyed the company of others!

1)  One of the things I enjoy about VBS here at FBC is the companionship!

2)  I often think of the selfless work of ants or honey bees!  They crawl or buzz with seemingly no direction, but the end result is achieved goals and accomplished work!  And, they seem to enjoy doing it together!

2.  So, as we put the pieces together of our text, we recognize that these ladies were Christian ladies, they were committed Christian ladies, and they were happy to be in the company of others who were equally committed, but that didn’t prevent them from having a disagreement.  Notice the:

II.  CONFLICT – v. 2b [p. 761] “the same mind.”

A.  While the nature of the conflict is not disclosed in our passage, it must have been sufficiently important enough for Paul to mention these two ladies BY NAME (what a welcoming thought – not)!

1.  The implications of their argument with one another were such that it had reached well beyond Philippi and had reached the ears of Paul, who, of course, was writing to them from Rome (814 miles, which is about as far as it is from here to Florida)!!!

2.  Paul did not address the problem between these two ladies because of the issue itself (we don’t know if the dispute was doctrinal, ethical, ecclesiastic or personal), but the impact that their disagreement was having on others.

a.   Like ripples on water from a tossed stone, this dispute was affecting the calmness of the entire pond!

B.  A church (speaking of the people; not the building) is supposed to “stand fast IN THE LORD.”  Notice Paul begins this chapter with this statement (v. 1).

1.  But a church can’t “stand fast” (v. 1) if it tolerates discord (v. 2)!

2.  A church cannot “stand fast” (v. 1) if it isn’t concerned about the cause of Christ!

a.   Because the kind of division which Paul addresses between these two ladies is contrary to the call that he had already issued.  If you turn back one page to the opening verses of chapter 2, you will notice he had already issued this command of unity (read vv. 1-2)!

b.   Apparently, these two ladies didn’t take notice or the contention was so strong between them, they rebelled against Paul’s plea!  So, here in chapter four, Paul calls them out by name!!!  Imagine doing something like that today!  Ha!  The average church would run you out of town!

3.  This kind of division was not only contrary to the call that Paul had already issued; it was contrary to the nature of the church – (2:2 “one accord”).

a.   To confess unity in heaven and practice disunity on earth is against the nature of the church.

b.   But too often, we find ourselves distracted by petty and often peripheral concerns which sap the energy not only of the arguers but also of all who are caught up with it, and we scatter seeds of bitterness within a church family.

1)  Paul not only addressed this issue in chapter 2; he exhorted the Philippians in chapter 1:27 in the same way (read).

2)  Those of us who were in the military know the absolute necessity of this ‘closing of the ranks’ Paul alluded to when he commanded, “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together.”  We must identify the primary front where the battle is raging or we will lose sight of the real enemy!

3)  Euodias and Syntyche had allowed their contention to supersede the cause of the gospel and it was opening up the church for the enemy’s advances.

4)  When God’s people cannot bear the sight of one another, they will not be able to look the world in the face with love and compassion!  Notice Paul’s plea for restitution:

III.      CONSIDER – v. 2c “in the Lord.”

A.  Who you are. 

1.  The only solution to the conflict in Paul’s mind is for these two ladies to remember who they are “in the Lord.”

a.   That little phrase is so important.  It is so crucial!

b.   These ladies needed to be reminded of who they are.  They were NOT their own!

1)  Paul speaks to this issue in his letter the Corinthians in somewhat shocked disbelief (p. 740 – notice chapter 6:19 – read).

2)  When we forget that we belong exclusively to Christ –we begin to champion our own agenda, to establish our own cause, to fight for our own rights, to disagree with and dispute with anybody who doesn’t agree with our legitimate cause, belief or desire!

3)  As well-meaning as all of that may be, and as justifiable as it may seem, the fact of the matter is, when I remember that I am “in the Lord,” I understand that it is inconsistent for me to insist on my own way.

2.  This is the message of scripture!

a.   Notice what Paul wrote to the Roman Christians (15:1-2 – read – p. 736).

1)  Notice also the specific admonition given at the end of v. 1 “not to please ourselves.”

2)  Euodias and Syntyche had forgotten this and so Paul encourages BOTH of them consider taking the initiative with the other (v. 2).

B.  Love always takes the initiative.

1.  One thing that is absolutely certain in the healing and mending of relationships (whether marital, parental or church) is someone has to be the initiator.

2.  When we think of our relationship with Christ, we are minded of this truth.

a.   Love always takes the initiative!

1)  This is the theme of John 3:16 [p. 686]!

2)  Paul reiterated this theme in Romans 5:8 [p. 730] “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Conclusion: What about us today?  Do we have any Euodias and Syntyche’s?  Male or female?  It happens, you know?  As in our text, it even happens to Committed Christians who normally work so well together!  Why not take the initiative of love today.  Go to them and say those powerful words – “I’m sorry.”

Let’s pray