When we were kids, my brother and sister and I sometimes fought with one another. When my mother saw us, she would shake her head and say, “This is why there will never be world peace.” Family members don’t always get along. And even within the family of God, we sometimes have disagreements that become serious.
In Philippians 4:2, the apostle pleads with Euodia and Syntyche to “be of the same mind in the Lord.” At one time, these two women served alongside Paul in the gospel. The Greek word in verse 3 translated “contended at my side” literally means “to struggle together.” Paul employs the same word in Philippians 1:27 when he urges the Philippians to stand firm by “striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.”
Why do Christians divide? We face division when we shift our focus away from what we hold in common, namely the faith of the gospel. Instead of struggling together on behalf of Christ, we strive against one another and act out of self-interest. On the one hand, it should encourage us to know that the early church faced the same problems as we do. At the same time, it is a warning. This self-centered approach damages our spiritual life and the church’s mission. It is important to note that Paul does not say that Christians must agree about everything. We may differ about many things, and some of our differences may be significant. But we are to be of the same mind “in the Lord.”
Occasionally, the differences that arise between believers grow so serious that they need the intervention of a third party before they can reconcile. Paul asked another Philippian believer, referred to only as “my true companion,” to “help” them.
>> We cannot force people to reconcile, but we may be able to help them. Is there someone who needs your help as a peacemaker today (see Matt. 5:9)? Ask God for wisdom and the opportunity to intervene when needed.
God of peace, we pray concerning specific divisions in our churches. We ask that you cause those in contention to be of one mind and that they will come out of this conflict with greater love for You and one another.