Philippians 4:1-3 | "1Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,"
Today we will be considering Philippians chapter 4, verses 1 through 3, The Qualities of Genuine Christian Relationships. Hear the word of the Lord, “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”
One of the things that we need to be reminded of is our identity, who we are as Christian people. And that is especially true when we are facing big challenges. If you have ever encountered a big challenge in the home or in the workplace or in a community or you have to confront somebody in order to make a relationship right, you will know how much assurance you have in Jesus Christ and how much knowledge you have, and need to have, with regard to your identity in Him. He loves you. He's given Himself for you and He is moving you to do something that’s very challenging, but because of who you are in Him, you can accept that challenge and move forward. And that's what we find here. The Apostle Paul is reminding the Philippians who they are and He’s reminding Euodia and Syntyche who they are, so that then they can work out this disagreement between the two of them.
What I'd like to do is begin with some qualities that genuine Christian relationships which will help us relate well to other believers. And the first is that we are members of God's family. Right here in verse 1 Paul begins by saying, “Therefore, my brothers and sisters.” Immediately Paul begins by showing the Philippians who they are. They’re related spiritually. They have God as their Father. They’re brothers and sisters in Christ. They’ve been adopted into God’s family. They have a place. They belong. Many of you perhaps have felt like you or feel like you don’t have a place and that you don’t belong. If you believe in Jesus or if you are thinking about believing in Jesus, just know you have a place if you believe in Him. He welcomes you with open arms. He adopts you into the family of God. He allows you and wants you to sit down with Him, to fellowship with Him, to read His word, and just to bask in His presence. It's a wonderful relationship. So we are members of God's family.
And then Paul moves from that to show the fact of sibling love and the intense feelings that accompany that love. Now, both of those are very important. Listen in verse 1 as Paul continues, “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for.” Notice the balance. Paul says that he loves the Philippians and it's great to be loved. We love our brothers and sisters in Christ. And that should mean that we will take action with regard to their well-being. If they have a need, we want to meet that need be it emotional, financial, material. Because we know that as we have done unto one of the least of these brothers of Jesus, so we have done unto Jesus. So to say that we love other believers means at least in part, a big part, that we are going to do things to help them and that's a wonderful thing. But Paul doesn’t stop there and neither should we. Paul says this, “Whom I love and long for.” Paul goes a step beyond just showing love to the Philippians. His heart's desire is longing for them. He not only loves them; he wants to be with them. See, love says I will do anything for you, but this feeling of longing says I want to be with you. And we know sometimes that isn’t always true. We’ll love people and that will help them in a certain situation, but that doesn't mean we long to be with them. The ideal relationship, though, includes both. It includes both expressing and demonstrating love and having a heart-felt desire to be with God's people as well. And we need people in our lives with whom or about whom we can say both of these things. We’re to love all people, but do you have people in your life you really long to be with? I know I do. And I know we need this in order to cultivate the kind of deep relationships and spiritual and relational and social intimacy that God wants us to have. Now, we will love more people than we long for, but a subgroup of the large number of people that we love we must long for. So continue to cultivate those relationships and to go the extra mile until you find people about whom you can say, you not only love them but you long for them and love to be with them.
The next is a firm stance in the Lord in life, which is what we need. Paul says here, “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown. Stand firm thus in the Lord.” That is a call for all of us; not just Paul to the Philippians but by extension, God to us. Standing firm in the Lord. There are many things in life that battle for our attention, that will battle and are battling for your attention, for your time, for your energy, for your focus. It's your work. It's your family. Good things. Things you must committed to and must do well. But you're not standing firm in those things. You have to stand firm in the Lord while you carry out your duties and responsibilities in the home, in the workplace, in your neighborhood, and in your community. The Lord has to be our foundation. Remember what the Bible says? Build your foundation upon the rock. Jesus Christ is the rock. Remember what David said in the Psalms? He picked my feet or lifted my feet up out of the mud, out of the miry clay, and placed them upon the rock. That rock is Jesus. And on rocks, we stand firm. Our feet are sure. We’re secure. We're not going to wobble this way and that way, being carried this way over here or that way over there. Standing firm in the Lord. And it means standing firm and who He is. He's the creator of the universe. He's the one who loves us and has given Himself for us. So we want to enjoy this kind of intimate depth with Him. Read the scriptures. Take in the scriptures. Learn about Jesus. Fellowship with Him. Pray to Him. Encourage others to join you in this walk. Stand firm in the Lord in order to honor and serve Him in all of the details of life that He's called you to be involved in. Now, these are the some of the things that would have helped Euodia and Syntyche work out the difficulty which we are about to look into now.
And this is our next point: In order to prevent negative fallout within the church, disagreement between church leaders must be worked out. Verse 2, Paul says, “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.” Why would Paul mention Euodia and Syntyche? Well, in that time in the first century, it wasn't a negative thing to have one's name mentioned in public or in writing. Today it would be. We would think it would embarrass us; it would draw negative attention to us. It was exactly the opposite in Paul's day. It was a positive thing to have one’s name mentioned and a negative thing just to have one referred to in maybe a side manner but indirectly. And he's mentioning Euodia and Syntyche because they are leaders in the church. I think oftentimes this part of scripture has been misinterpreted and that this disagreement between Euodia and Syntyche has been understood to be just a women's issue. It's not just a women’s issue. Oh, two women who can't get along. That's not what it's about. That's not what it's about. This is a leadership issue. Now how do we know that? Well, one thing, there’s internal evidence in Philippians or elsewhere that these are just two women who disagree and can't get along, but there is internal evidence. Here their names are mentioned, so they’re important people. And also remember in Acts chapter 16, when Paul enters Philippi for the first time. In an ancient Roman city when Paul entered, it would’ve taken ten Jewish men to form a local synagogue and there was no synagogue in Philippi. So Paul found women who were praying together outside of the city by the river side and he shared the Gospel and Lydia became a believer, Acts chapter 16. Well it's, I think, proper and appropriate for us to assume that Euodia and Syntyche were there as well with Lydia and either at that time or shortly after that time they too became believers and had a very important leadership role in the church in Philippi. So it was not just women who couldn't get along; it was a leadership issue that was affecting the church. And it's interesting here, I've read extensively about who this true comrade or true companion is who Paul recruits to help these women. Some people think it was Luke, the author of Luke and of Acts. These women were of such influence and such ability. I mean, Paul would say later on, “They have labored side by side with me.” I mean, they were Paul's co-laborers, that it took someone of Luke’s caliber to help work out this disagreement. But I think we can assume though we don't know for sure that they were able to work out that disagreement.
So I think it's important to remember that regardless of how the leadership structure in Philippi was established and maintained that these women had leadership roles. Now, what else? They, again, were fellow workers with Paul in the Gospel. This means they held a very high position, not necessarily a formal position. Paul says, in verse 3, “Help these women who have labored side by side with me in the Gospel together with Clement and the rest of my workers fellow workers.” Fellow workers. I want you to view yourself as a fellow worker in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With your pastors, with your church leaders, with everybody who's in Jesus Christ, you have a very important place in God's Kingdom and in God's church. God has gifted you. He's called you to minister for Christ, in Christ’s name in your home and in your local community, and in your workplace. You are a fellow worker with me and the rest of us. Do not sell yourself short. Do not believe in a hierarchy in the Christian Church. God has gifted you, so use your gifts. Seek the Lord. Surround yourselves with people who encourage you, who motivate you in Jesus Christ to move forward in Him, to press on, to take hold of the things that Christ Jesus has taken hold of you for.
Now, finally, the certainty of our future motivates us to live the Christian life now. In verse 3, Paul says, “whose names” -- that is Euodia and Syntyche -- their names are written in the book of life. Now, Paul is doing that to give everybody in Philippi the security and the confidence of knowing where they're going in order that they may deal -- maybe with Euodia and Syntyche -- with this difficulty. There’s scarcely anything that motivates me and there should be nothing else that motivates you like the life of the world to come. Knowing that Jesus died and rose again and ascended and poured out His spirit into our hearts. He has secured your future. This is where you're going, so press on. Day by day. Moment by moment. Step by step. Be encouraged. Be bold in Jesus. Take hold of the Lord in a spiritual sense knowing that He's leading you, He's pressing on with you, He's walking side by side with you even as he indwells you. So be encouraged as Christ's people to understand who you are, what your identity is in Christ, in order to meet all of the challenges of life that you will face this day and every day until you see Jesus Christ face to face. Let's pray.
Father, we thank you so much for the Glory of the Gospel, for who Jesus is and all that He has done for us. Help us to remember our identity in Jesus Christ in order that our lives may be firmly built upon Him, so that we then, therefore, may meet the challenges that we face in life and overcome those challenges in Him and press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus has taken hold of us -- eternal life -- and knowing, even right now, that our names are written in the Lambs book of life. We thank you. In Jesus’s name, amen.