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


Christian Fellowship - How to have a Great Christian Fellowship

What makes for a great fellowship, whether in a cell group or in a church? There is only one simple attribute --- humility. We learn from Jesus, and from Paul and be empowered by the grace of God and the Holy Spirit within us. Abide in Christ, be humble and act out from the grace within will produce a great fellowship. More specific details are covered in ref: Php 2:1-18 
What is attractive? In the midst of darkness, and in the state of confusion, the one that shines the light and shows the path to follow will be the center of attraction. Believers are to be that light that shines.

Objective: All Believers should shine as a light in the midst of this evil and twisted generation by living a blameless life, no selfish interests, no manipulations --- holy life - separated in intention and behavior. Php 2:15.

Source of Our Power: Where can we find the power to live out such a life? Paul tells us in verse 16 holding fast to the word of life; which is to abide in Christ be led by the Holy Spirit and by the Grace of God. "Grace and Peace to unto you" is a frequent prayer of the apostles for the believers.

Extent: How much should we give in the service of others? Be sacrificial for others like Jesus. Paul's example: Php 2:17  Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.

The Principle for Influencing Others: Reach down to bring them up.
Count not on your authority and ability to lord over others, but go down to their level to build connection and then bring them up to your level and even to Jesus'.

The One Attitude Needed: Humility - Have the same mind of Jesus.
Follow Jesus's example. God coming as man,(Php 2:7  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8  ... by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. ) ...  In the simple act washing his disciples' feet to show humility at a very practical act.

Humility is shown in many other ways like:

  • count others more significant(not better, but importance),2:3
  • look into their interests, 2:4
  • leading to one mind through the path of love. 2:2
  • work out our salvation that is within us 2:13 with the attitude of thoughtfulness and urgency - don't miss any opportunity.
    (note: Jon Courson's Application Commentary, tells us that it is "to work out" and not "work for" nor "work on". Hence, we are already saved within and we need to draw from the secured saved state and the grace to live out the blameless life that shines.)
  • do without grumbling or disputing --- simple obedience to Jesus. 2:14.
More behaviors:
 v20 genuinely concerned for your welfare
 v21 seek the interest of Jesus and not self.
 v22 as a son with a father -- mentor and mentee. development of successors
 v23,25  sending out to help with others
 v24 relationship - comrade: my brother, a fellow worker, a fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need,
 v29 receive one another with joy and to honor such men.
 v30 complementing one another in the service of Christ --> v21
 Sharing one another burden - Php 4:14  Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.

The attitude we have of others and to inspire them is given by Paul in:

Php 4:1  Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

Now that we know, we should just follow.

Lim Liat (c) 25 Nov 2018 - 28 Nov 2018


Why did God created Men knowing that they will sin?

An alternate title is "We are better off because of Adam!"
"Is God is so smart, how come He created men knowing that they would sin?". "Why did God created men knowing they would sin?" "It is not fair, why should we suffer because of Adam's sin?" etc.

The answer can be found in Ephesian:
  • Eph 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 
  • Eph 1:4  even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love 
  • Eph 1:5  he predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 
We can see the following points from the above verses:
  1.  God chose us BEFORE the Foundation of the World.
     So it is not an afterthought. 
  2.  We are created in LOVE to be HOLY and blameless.
     Sin was not in the created men.
  3.  We are to be Adopted as Sons [of God]
     Our destination is to be as children of God and living with God.
  4.  Through Jesus Christ.
     The way to be children of God is through Jesus Christ. God already foresaw that men will sin and have provided the way of salvation by He, Himself coming as a man to die a painful death on the cross. But God considered, because of His Love, it is a worthwhile affair. The sin of men does not stop the plan of God to enrich heaven with many children of God. Heaven becomes richer because God created men and save them and adopted them as children through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
We are better than Adam.
  1.  Most people will blame Adam for sinning and causing us all the sufferings. But truly speaking, if we were Adam then, would we not also commit the same sin? The sin of disobedience of wanting to be our own god and doing our own thing. See Knowledge Tree of Good and Evil
  2. Adam was given the choice to reject God.
    We are given the choice to receive God.
    He got kicked out. We got welcomed and adopted in.
  3. Adam was created in the image of God.
    We are rebirthed by the Holy Spirit as the children of God with God as our heavenly Father. It is a much closer relationship. We are of the same kind as God.
In summary, through Jesus Christ's redemptive death and resurrection, we become children of God and we have to thank Adam for that! We are better off because of Adam.

Lim Liat (c) 16 Nov 2018


The Gospel Made Simple - Two Kinds of Love

Two kinds of love:

1. Relationship:

It is like what a famous Chinese author Bing Xin wrote,
 冰心: "妈妈,你为什么这么爱我?"
Bing Xin said, "Mom, why do you love me so much?"

Her mother replied, "There is no any other reason than it is just because you are my daughter."

It is unconditional and eternal.

2. Performance Base: 

We heard often, and we are likely to do the same as well, parents telling their children, "If you behave well, study well,... then we will love you."

妈妈会跟孩子说:”你要有好行为,成绩要好, 要乖乖。。。妈妈才爱你。“

You have to earn the love or favor. It is actually a business transaction. A transactional relationship that depends on performance and hence it is not eternal but temporary. You are loved as long as you perform well.

God's love for us is the first kind - based on the relationship of Creator and Created (giving birth to us) and it is unconditional and eternal.

1. We are created in God's image.
Gen 1:26  Then God said, "Let Us make human beings in Our image, to be like Us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground."

2. We are predestined to be with Him as His Children before the foundation of the earth
Eph 1:4  Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.
Eph 1:5  God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.

3. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Rom 5:8  But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

4. We don't have to do anything except to believe and receive Jesus.
Love cannot be forced on people. It is venerable. It can be received or rejected.

John 3:16  "For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:18  "There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God's one and only Son.

The Gospel is not to make people good but to make dead people alive.

Col 2:13  And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 

We are born on earth, in a state that is separated from God. We must be rebirthed as God's children in order to have a close relationship with God.

A parrot can speak like a man but is still a parrot. Man can whistle like a parrot but he is a man. Man can have parrots as pets but the relationship cannot be intimate. So Jesus Christ needs to come first as a man to communicate with men and then died for men's sins and be resurrected and give new life to men born now by the Holy Spirit as children of God; the same kind as God to have close fellowship with God.

May you embark on a journey to discover the truth and reap the benefits.

Lim Liat (c) 13 Nov 2018