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Defusing Conflict

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I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
(Philippians 4:2-3 ESV)

The church at Philippi had sent Paul a monetary gift which was accompanied by a letter in which they gave him the latest news of what was happening there. In it they apparently mentioned that two women were in conflict and perhaps asked him what to do about it.

Considering the deep concern the Philippians had for Paul and his current situation (he was in jail waiting to find out if he would be beheaded) it seems they would not have brought up the conflict between the two women if it wasn’t serious. But notice that Paul doesn’t get involved.

He does tell the women to “agree in the Lord” but beyond that he delegates the responsibility for resolving this conflict to the other members of the church.

The Greek word translated “true companion” is συζυγοσ (pronounced: sood’-zoo-gos). It means “one who is yoked”. Some translations even have “true yokefellow” here. The word picture is of two oxen yoked together pulling the same load. A yokefellow is someone who works alongside another and carries part of the responsibility in an endeavor.

Often times, as members of our church, we expect the pastors to deal with solving problems. But this is not the pastor’s job. The pastor’s job is to teach others the Word of God so we can do whatever needs to be done, including resolving conflict. All believers are spiritually yoked. We all need to bear the burden of serving Christ and each other. We should not put undue responsibility on our brothers and sisters.

Paul doesn’t take sides in the dispute and does not encourage others to do so either. Rather, he commands them to “help these women” come to realize that they should “agree in the Lord” and not let their differences create problems in the church.

A church that has internal conflict cannot do good things for God. They are too distracted by what divides them instead of being lead by what unites them. Such disputes, when seen by those outside the church, send the wrong message to an unbelieving world.

Once we are saved our lives no longer belong to us [Galatians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20]. We live for Him. This means, among other things, living in harmony with other believers as well as taking an active role in defusing any conflict that exists between our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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