Settling Disagreement in Church - Php 4:2-9

In the name of love, disagreements in Church are usually ignored or covered-up and hence the problem remains and relationships become superficial.  Paul shows us how to resolve them in Phillippians 4:2-9.
The Disagreement in Church

Php 4:2  I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.

Here we have two prominent ladies of the church that are in disagreement. The disagreement has come to the attention of Paul. Did Paul tell them to just agree in the Lord? No. Paul gave us the way to resolve the conflict.  He gave the reason why they need to resolve it --- because of the Lord. They are to work together in harmony because they all belonged to the same Lord and working for the same gospel. There is this basis for harmony.

1. Get A Mediator:
Php 4:3  Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women...

Paul requested a true companion, someone who had known the women, and who worked side by side with Paul and Clement. And most importantly, someone who had the respect and good relationships with the women.

We do not know who he was. Looking up Wikipedia, we found some suggestions: Peter Toon, in his commentary, wrote: "His identity is not known, but he was probably a respected and influential member of the church whose word would be heeded".[9] William Barclay, after discussing various possible identities, states "Maybe the best suggestion is that the reference is to Epaphroditus, the bearer of the letter."[10] 

2. Have the Right Emotion: Calm, Peace, Joy, Gratefulness(In Christ)

Php 4:4  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

Most people might think that v3 is the end of the topic of resolving conflict and Paul had moved on to another topic. However, v5 tell us otherwise and we shall see later.

People in an emotionally charged-up state could not listen and reason. It is important to calm the emotions first before proper discussion can take place. It is best if both parties prepare themselves and have the attitude to want to resolve the issue rather than trying to blame one another.  So Paul wanted them to calm down and better still in an emotional state of gratefulness and joy and wanting to resolve issues amicably. So, they must recall the joy and gratefulness in Christ. The Chinese wisdom teaches us to address the emotion first, then reason out and then agree on the settlement. (以情入理而后立法). Starts with relationships, giving and saving face, and then address the mindset and then the ways to go forward.

3. Right Thinking - Reasonableness

Php 4:5  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;

Paul wanted them to be reasonable. How reasonable should they be? Should be able to show to all and all people agree that it was reasonable! In fact, the reasonings should be used as an example for all to follow in the future.

Paul restated the purpose, in the Lord, and the urgency to settle it because the Lord is at hand.

The standards of reasoning should be based on pleasing the Lord. Discuss the issues as if the Lord is physically present.

4. Bring the Issues to the Lord - Get His Wisdom and Power

Php 4:6  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Php 4:7  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Many will be worried about the settlement. Will I lose out? How would it be better for me? What were be the better ways out? You see, when we worry, our focus will be on ourselves. Paul reminded us that there is a higher force at work. There is the greater help at hand. We just need to present them to God. Come to God, and list down all your concerns and needs and entrust them to God. Focus now on God and see how God lead you. When we understand God will help us, we shall calm down because the Power of Christs will guard and keep our minds in Jesus and with His wisdom.

5. What are the Biblical Principles to apply?

What and how will make a good settlement? How shall we think and behave? What are good or bad. Paul list down eight things to consider:

Php 4:8  Finally, brothers, think about these things:

  1. whatever is true, 
  2. whatever is honorable, 
  3. whatever is just, 
  4. whatever is pure, 
  5. whatever is lovely, 
  6. whatever is commendable, 
  7. if there is any excellence, 
  8. if there is anything worthy of praise, 

6. Follow the Good Examples of Paul/Worthy Leaders and Practices:

Php 4:9  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

If we are still blur about what and how to do, Paul said to follow his examples and practices.

Next time if there be any disagreement, don't just ignore it, but maybe can put Paul's advice into practice and have a church with authentic relationships.

Lim Liat (c) 29 Nov 2018

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