Thursday, July 07, 2011

Gleanings in Philippians ~ The Shalom of God: Phil 4.2-7 (Part I)

Have you ever wished that your name was in a Bible book? Well, if you did, you probably wanted your name mentioned in commendation, but you probably wouldn’t want your names mentioned in the way these two godly women’s names are mentioned here in Philippians 4:2 – that is, to rebuke you because you’re having a fight with one another! There is nothing unusual about the situation they’re going through, it happens in churches all over the world.

It just shows you, as beautiful as this passage is, this is a very practical passage. We’ll look at the passage in five parts.

In verses 2-3, the first part is where that personal exhortation is made to Euodia and Syntyche, and that personal exhortation is very simple: “Be reconciled.” Then if you look at verse 4, you’ll see the second part of the passage. It’s a second exhortation, a general exhortation to everyone, “Rejoice always.” Then, the third part comes in verse 5, a general exhortation to everyone: “Be reasonable.” Be gentle and reasonable in the way you deal with one another. The fourth part of the passage comes in verse 6, a fourth exhortation in the passage: “Don’t worry, pray instead.”

And then finally comes, not an exhortation, but a promise, and the promise we see in verse 7: God’s peace will surround and flood your understanding and desires. This whole passage is actually telling you how it is that you are enabled to experience that extraordinary supernatural peace of God which is beyond our comprehension.

We’ll consider Paul’s exhortation to reconciliation this week and then look at the other four parts next week.

I. Be reconciled.
In verses 2-3, Paul addresses these two godly women, Euodia and Syntyche, and he urges them in the strongest terms, he begs them to agree in the Lord, to be reconciled to one another. Whatever division has come in between them that has separated them in their friendship and in their co-working in the gospel, he wants that to be overcome.

Can you imagine, if your pastor had called you out by name on Sunday to be reconciled to another friend or family member with whom you were disagreeing? He might not live past the next hour if he did that! For Paul to do this though, shows his love and respect for these women, and theirs for him.

These women were part of the core group in Philippi. Paul indicates that Euodia and Syntyche, these godly women, had been part of working with him shoulder to shoulder to advance the gospel in this church from the very beginning, and yet somehow these godly women (and he does not question their godliness or their Christian credentials in the least, rather he says of all of the people mentioned in verses 2 and 3 their names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. He’s not talking about people who turned their back on the gospel. He’s talking about real godly women who had worked shoulder to shoulder with one another and with him) have gotten crosswise with one another. And Paul is deeply concerned about that.

This exhortation is perennially relevant. Paul expects this kind of struggle and situation to exist in the church, but he refuses to take it lying down. He is deeply concerned to see reconciliation between those that are estranged in the context of the congregation.

And here’s the encouraging thing: gospel forgiveness and reconciliation cannot be manifested until there has been a break in a relationship which requires gospel forgiveness and reconciliation. So every estrangement that exists in a church is not simply something that burdens God’s heart that He longs to see corrected, but it is an opportunity for gospel forgiveness to be shown. You can’t show the gospel grace of forbearing a wrong against you and forgiving a brother or sister who has wounded you until they’ve wounded you, until they’ve wronged you. And so I simply want to say however deep your estrangement may be from a friend or from a family member, it is only then that the power of God’s grace in gospel forgiveness and reconciliation can be shown. And the Apostle Paul is saying at the very outset, “Be reconciled. Make it a priority to work for these kinds of reconciliations.

And do you notice how he calls on the rest of the congregation? He doesn’t just say, ‘Euodia and Syntyche, work it out. Come on, ladies. Just work it out. Bury the hatchet.’ He’s not; obviously this thing has gotten so deep that they’re beyond working it out between one another. They need help. And so he tells Epaphroditus, who’s delivering this book, and he tells Clement, who’s already there ministering in the congregation, and he tells other fellow workers, ‘Look, I need all of you to work together to bring these dear sisters in Christ back into fellowship with one another.’

Do you see what he’s saying? He’s saying that every member of the congregation has a part and a vested interest in the congregation’s forgiving and reconciling; and, therefore, every member of the congregation is to be praying towards and helping as you are able cultivate a culture of reconciliation in the church where forgiveness is offered and where relationships are restored. It’s that serious to the Apostle Paul, and it’s going to be connected, we’re going to see (in verse 7) to the experience of peace that passes understanding.

Next week, we’ll look at three more exhortations from the Apostle Paul and study the promise of God’s peace.

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