Friday, March 10, 2017
The 4th Chapter of Philippians is one of my favorite chapters in the bible. Yet, every time I read it I feel uneasy at the start of it when I am reminded of the reality that strife and contentions can arise even in the best of churches and families, as it did among the Philippians. The way the Apostle Paul started the chapter is evidence that the Philippian believers were near and dear to him. He called them his joy and crown and was obviously very proud of them. Because they meant so much to him, I can only imagine how much it hurt him to learn that strife had arisen among two of it’s prominent members. In the 2nd verse, and part of the 3rd, we read: “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel.” Besides begging these two dear ladies to end their strife and settle their differences, he appealed to the pastor to do everything that he could to help them as well.
Strife is a terrible and hurtful thing especially when it occurs among God’s children, those who should love one another dearly. If it is unchecked and is allowed to continue it can break up marriages, families, even churches. The bible has a lot to say about this damaging sin. Here are just three examples: (Proverbs 16:28 NLT) “A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.” (Pro. 17:14) “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.” (Pro. 20:3) “It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” To sum up the general truths of these three verses, the one who starts the quarrel is a troublemaker who causes the breakup of even the best of friends. Secondly, once the floodgates of strife are open, very little can be done to contain it or “take it back.” Thirdly, those who are quick to start quarrels are called fools while those who avoid them are called honorable.
Someone asked me recently: “In a quarrel, who should be the first to ask forgiveness or say that they’re sorry?” I replied that I wasn’t sure but what I do know is that the one who usually puts an end to a quarrel is the strongest in character and grace of the two. The one who ends strife is usually the one with the biggest heart, the one who loves Christ the most, the one who is more like Him. I feel that way because of what I read in these two particular verses: (Proverbs 15:18 NLT) “A hot-tempered person starts fights; a cool-tempered person stops them.” (Pro. 15:1) “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Since we are all capable of it, none of us are exempt from strife. Therefore, it is possible that one, two, or more of you are presently experiencing it. If you are, I have one question for you: “Are you the weak one or the strong one?”
God’s word for today: (Ephesians 4:32) “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”