In Philippians 4:2, Paul begins the final section of his book to the church at Philippi. He states, “I entreat [urge, plead with] Euodia and 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…” The Bible does not share a great deal of information about these two women. Obviously, they had labored together with Paul and now they were having relational issues. Paul makes some interesting statements here in the passage regarding relational health within the body.
1. Relationships are healthy when Christ is the focus.
A.W. Tozer stated, “one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to one another.” What is Paul’s urging here? It is not that Syntyche be in agreement to what Euodia wanted or vice versa. His pleading was that they agree in the Lord. What does Christ want? What is Christ’s objective? Far too often, in a church setting or in our own relationships as believers, we want people to see things from our perspective and, quite honestly, we want people to do things our way. In order to have a healthy relationship, we have to say, “what does Christ want?” Our unity will come as others ask that same question. It isn’t about me getting people to see things my way, it is about people being committed to what Christ wants and consequently, those who are pursuing Christ will be unified.
2. Relationships are healthy when the “one anothers” are fulfilled.
What does Paul say in verse 3? “I ask you also, true companion, help these women…” Too many times in a church setting, two people are having relational problems and the entire congregation knows about it, talks about it, worries about, but seldom does anything about it! The Bible is full of “one another” phrases that give us commands that we as believers are to fulfill. We are to love, care for, encourage, edify, exhort, welcome, and be kind to one another. Here is the raw application of the commands from Scripture: it is your obligation to seek healthy relationships in your own life and in the lives of other believers. This is your obligation and my obligation as a believer. I must fulfill the one another commands of Scripture and you must fulfill them as well.
3. Relationships are healthy when accounts are kept short.
We are not told what the problem was between these two women, but here is one thing we do know: they had a long-standing issue. How do we know this? Paul had time to be told about the issue by Epaphroditus who was sent to be a blessing and encouragement to him by the people of Philippi. No doubt, Epaphroditus had brought word of these two ladies and their ongoing issues with one another. This means that they had not kept short accounts with each other. They had not made sure to take care of an issue when it arose. Possibly one of them offended the other one and that offense was allowed to fester, manifesting itself in retaliation to the other, producing a new offense that resulted in an unbiblical response, and so on, and on. These two women had gotten to the point where they could not get along because they did not handle an offense quickly. If someone has offended you, your obligation is to go to them and talk to them. You need to take care of that offense as quickly as possible.
4. Relationships are healthy when humility is present.
It is a certainty that any time there is a conflict or a breach in a relationship, pride is present on some level. In order for Syntyche and Eoudia to agree in the Lord, they had to set aside their own pride and selfish ambition. They had to see themselves for who they are and they had to see God for who He is. He is supreme and He is preeminent and He demands that His will be our primary focus. Pride will keep us from having healthy relationships for pride will focus us on ourselves and it will keep us from focusing on Christ and others.
For all of eternity, Syntyche and Euodia will be etched on the pages of Scripture as two people who had struggles getting along. We can easily change their names out for our name and someone with whom we have an unresolved struggle. May we learn from them and may we agree in the Lord! May we keep Christ as the focus, may we engage in fulfilling the one another commands of Scripture, may we keep short accounts and may we be humble before God and others.