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Philippians 2:18; 4:29comment (0)

May 3, 2007

By James C. Pounds Jr.

Related Scripture: Philippians 2:18; 4:29

Bible Studies for Life
Director, Extension Division, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

Honor God
Philippians 2:1–8; 4:2–9

“I don’t get mad; I get even!” How many times have we heard that? The truth is we do get mad and greatly desire to get even. How do we feel when someone speaks ill of us or does harm to our child? And when a person cuts us off in traffic and then “gestures” to us — what is the first thing that comes to mind?

In the midst of conflict, many of us might not want to admit that our initial thoughts are far from honoring to God. Our tendency is to only think of ourselves and how we might get revenge on the one who has offended us.

Imitate Christ (2:1–8)
In his letter to the Philippian believers, Paul has been emphasizing the importance of Christian love within the body of Christ. He further explains the necessity that they make every effort to treat each other lovingly and humbly. Because they are united with Christ, they need always to value and do what is in the best interests of one another.

Agree in the Lord (4:2–3)
Paul now comes to a key issue. He brings up a specific conflict between two believers named Euodia and Syntyche. These two ladies, who had been so faithful in the Lord’s work, are now “at odds” with each other, and this disagreement is apparently causing much difficulty in the church. Paul asks the church to help them resolve their differences because without reconciliation, God’s work in Philippi and among His people will be harmed.

Trust in God (4:4–7)
The apostle then exhorts these believers — all believers — to be anxious about nothing and to take all issues of concern to God, with thanksgiving. In return, Paul teaches that Christians can expect God’s peace to guard their hearts and minds. He wants these ladies to be willing to carry this issue to the Lord. Committing the problem to prayer might not quickly resolve their situation, but it can serve to diffuse the discord in a manner that is pleasing and honoring to Him.

Pursue Excellence (4:8–9)
Paul then points his hearers to an approach to conflicts that would act as a preventative to other ungodly arguments. Guarded by God’s peace, they are to focus their minds on and put into practice the characteristics of Christ they had learned, received and heard from Paul so that the God of peace will be with them, as He is with all believers who do the above.

Be a peacemaker — a peaceseeker — and we will be blessed. Isn’t this what Jesus teaches in the Beatitudes? We’re told to trust in God with all of our heart and He will “keep us on the right course.” Can’t we find numerous passages in the Bible that, had we obeyed them, might have guided us safely through some of life’s storms? Of course, we can. So why do some of us continue to charge headlong, again and again, into fight after fight? Because we’re broken, prideful and unwilling to admit when we are wrong and need help.

The world’s way of resolving conflicts is to stand ground, show strength, be tough and avoid any appearance of weakness. But these can be the very emotions that lead to arguments, impasses and sometimes violent results — even among brothers and sisters in Christ. Then we act surprised when others witness this behavior and refuse to have anything to do with or even abandon God’s church altogether? We are supposed to care about and treat each other in a manner that marks us as a unique people of God.

Until we are ready to confess that we don’t have all the answers and aren’t perfect, we will clash with others. These battles will only hurt us, our testimonies and — most of all — the message that Jesus “is the better way.” We have to live that message or else those who need it most will never receive it.

Paul tells us to “Imitate Christ, agree in the Lord, trust in God and pursue excellence.” He makes these essentials sound easy but we know they’re not.

But if we’ll accept that we are unable to do any of these in our own power and then rely on God’s strength, He’ll enable us to do them all. If we live in this manner, we’ll be able to manage all circumstances in a way that is honoring to God — which should be our guiding desire each and every day.

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