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Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Pastor and author Ray Ortlund offers advice for “How to Wreck Your Church in Three Weeks.” First, Ortlund suggests you begin by remembering how long you’ve been a member, how much you’ve given, and how little you’ve been appreciated. Then, you must email more “concerned” members. Finally, you should confront the elder board with your demands. When you’re not heard, you should leave. (Out of concern, take others with you.)
The church members in Philippi could have used Ortlund’s (satirical) advice. Conflict in the church was one reason Paul wrote this letter. He urged two prominent women in the church to get along (Phil. 4:2), but before addressing their conflict he laid a theological foundation for Christian unity.
Paul begins by reminding the opposing camps of God’s gracious gifts to His people: encouragement, comfort, community, tenderness, compassion, and love. He calls them to remember all the benefits they have had because of Christ, which is their great wealth in Him. This prelude informs what comes next: Paul takes direct aim at the desires of the congregation, challenging them to acknowledge the selfishness and vanity that threaten to fracture their community. Why have they wrangled with one another when God has already given so much to them?
Euodia and Syntyche and others could have benefitted from examining their desires and discerning self-interested motives. Whose goals were they promoting? Whose glory were they pursuing? Who would get the credit when what they had endeavored to accomplish was achieved? And ultimately, why was there such anxious hostility to protect their way of doing things?
Jesus Christ laid aside His own wealth and glory in order that He might take up suffering. Following Him in self-sacrifice converts our desires.
Apply the Word
Humility is more than valuing other people. It is the active promotion of their interests. What would it look like in your workplace to celebrate others’ achievements? What would it look like in your church to lay aside your insistent ideas and value the opinions of others? Engage in the practices of humility.
Pray with Us
Integrated Marketing Communications department serves Moody through web strategy, marketing, social media, and print pieces. Pray for Linda Piepenbrink, Brian Regnerus, Elena Mafter, and Jamie Janosz, that God would guide their work.