Joni Eareckson Tada points to a trap that many of us fall into at times.
A thoughtful devotional on conflict. A friend, Rev. Mike Roberts, one time did a devotional on this Scripture and talked about “Odious” and “Soon-Touchie”….a tongue in cheek play on the names of the parties Paul references in this Scripture! This event offers us perspective not only on our own individual responses to disagreement, but alon on the impact of our conflicts on those in the Body of Christ who observe them. Do we need to look at the log in our own eye? Are we overbearing, or “Odious”? Are we hypersensitive and easily offended? :
“Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”
Oh, to have labored alongside Paul! To listen to his preaching, share his passion, pray beside him, and follow him high and low, always contending for the faith. In this rare celestial air of apostolic fellowship, surely the espirit d’corps was strong, unswerving, and sweet. Euodia and Syntyche were in that exceptional circle of intimate Christian friends. These two women were dear companions of Paul and they fought valiantly beside him for the cause of the Gospel. They faced the same opposition and risks to their lives, the same hardships and struggles. Like Paul, they spread the Gospel everywhere they went.
Somehow they lost their focus. Things degenerated between them and these two sisters in Christ started knocking heads. News of their haranguing and berating of each other even reached the ears of Paul who was in prison. They forgot their purpose. They didn’t consider how their shenanigans would wound not only those around them, but the apostle. Their disagreement terribly deflated others. Most of all, the Gospel took a back seat–their dispute was more important to them!
Paul first addresses these two women with the command, “Stand firm.” Recapture your passion, reclaim the vision, recall your focus! No one is above becoming disagreeable and argumentative-not even Euodia and Syntyche. Today, remember Philippians 2:14 says, “Do everything without complaining or arguing.”
Thank you, Father, that you included the story of these two women in scripture. I take it as a warning to me today. Help me to agree with others “in the Lord.”