Euodia and Syntyche: A Lesson in Loving One Another
Do you ever have the urge to call someone out? For example, in a meeting, someone says something that’s just not true (or is a distortion of the truth), and you want to stand up and air all of their dirty laundry in front of the whole room.
I sure hope I’m not the only one who dreams of doing these things!
I hate things like injustice and manipulation, so there are times when I want to point a finger and have everyone see what I’m seeing. Most of the time, I calm down and remind myself that I am not judge, jury, and executioner in this life—let’s all be grateful for that.
What Happened Between Euodia and Syntyche?
I had always seen the introduction to Philippians 4 as Paul’s calling out two women who were in a feud with each other. I had read this passage as him airing their dirty laundry in front of the entire church.
But, as I was reading through these verses again the other day, I realized that my perception was just plain wrong. Paul was lovingly correcting these two women in a beautiful picture of God’s love and kindness toward us.
“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)
These women were pillars of the faith community. They weren’t recent converts, but they had been active in spreading the gospel.Have you ever wondered why Paul "called out" Euodia and Syntyche to settle their differences? Sarah has and she offers insight in this post… Click To Tweet
Paul’s Message to Euodia and Syntyche
Paul was honoring these women and their contribution to the church. I believe it was their strength of character and their past unity that made their rift so jarring. Their disagreement had to be extreme to warrant Paul writing to them from his prison cell.
If you first read these verses in a stern or “calling them out” tone of voice, I encourage you to go back and read it differently. How might these verses sound if they were written by someone who loved these women? Or how might these sound if read with a compassionate voice?
Paul’s message to Euodia and Syntyche wasn’t delivered to shame or bully them. He loved these ladies and didn’t want bitterness or unforgiveness to take hold in their hearts.
Think about all the anger and resentment Paul had felt as a young man before he knew Christ—he knew first-hand that those emotions would lead these women down an unpleasant path. More importantly, if this separation wasn’t dealt with now, they would drift away from God and each other.
Finally, this was a call to repentance and reconciliation.
Related Post: What God Taught Me About Forgiving Others Through Betrayal
A Message About the Meaning of Repentance
For years, even as a Christian, I misunderstood the meaning of repentance. Whenever that word would come up in church, I would half-heartedly repent for something, hiding under my façade of perfectionism.
I didn’t even want to admit to myself the depths of my sin and struggles!
But now I see that word completely differently: now I know that repentance leads to freedom.
When we repent, turn from our sin and back to God, we don’t have to be slaves to shame any longer. We don’t have to feel trapped by our mistakes or our issues—we are free to run after God.
You’re Never Alone…
Thankfully, the Lord knows that we can’t fully live out this God-following life on our own, but brings people into our lives who help us. Euodia and Syntyche weren’t going to be locked in a room and told to arm-wrestle it out. Paul partnered them with someone to help them as they walked out forgiveness and reconciliation.
God does the same thing in our lives: he brings people along for the journey, though sometimes they’re not the traveling companions we would’ve picked.
I wish that we were able to see the end of this story… To learn if these two women were able to submit to Paul’s authority, humble themselves before God, and pursue reconciliation. I sure hope so. If these two women were able to forgive, I imagine their impact in their community would’ve been immense.God loves us enough to send people into our lives who will point out our sin in order to point us back to Jesus. Click To Tweet
Though we’ll never know what happened to them, I’m grateful that we can learn from their example of faith. I’m thankful we can also learn from their mistakes.
The truth is that we all mess up along the way—I mess up often. But God loves me enough to send me people who will point out my sin in order to point me back to Christ.
We’re all works in progress, learning how to live a life of faith together. Let’s love one another, forgive one another, and pursue unity in Christ together.
Join the Conversation
Who as God sent to help you along the journey to repentance? Has God ever used you on someone else’s journey? Share your story in the comments.
P.S. Don’t forget Christmas is coming. Prepare your heart for the holidays with these Christ-centered devotions written by Heather Hart. As one reader put it, They are saturated with Scripture, personal antidotes, and Bible stories that speak to the soul and add depth and meaning to the birth of our Savior.