LET’S AGREE TO DISAGREE

I urge Euodia and Syntyche to iron out their differences and make up. God doesn’t want his children holding grudges. [Philippians 4:2 (MSG)]

Sandhill cranesThese words from Philippians are the only mention of Euodia and Syntyche in the New Testament. Personally, if someone is going to read about me over 2,000 years from now, I would prefer something about how easy it was to get along with me rather than about any arguments I had. It’s been suggested that better names for these women would be “Odious” and “So Touchy.” Perhaps Euodia really was hateful and obnoxious while Syntyche was thin-skinned and quick-tempered. Then again, maybe they were just like us at our less than best: stubborn, indignant, and unwilling to listen or compromise. We don’t know what their problem was nor do we know who was “right” and who was “wrong.” In this case, by holding a grudge, they both were wrong!

Because people in conflict usually expect others to take sides, conflict doesn’t just hurt those directly involved. The women’s behavior was threatening the existence of the church at Philippi and their dispute was hindering God’s work. To save the church, Paul didn’t tell them they had to agree; he just wanted them to find a way to live in harmony.

Like churches, families can suffer because of quarrels. I have a friend whose two sisters have a long-standing feud and refuse to speak with one another. Each sister gets irate and offended if my friend spends time with the other sister so now she no longer visits either one! She’s been estranged from them as a result of their estrangement from one another. Unfortunately, it doesn’t even stop there—two parents and ten cousins are also affected by their vendetta.

Heavenly Father, knowing that we can’t agree with everybody all of the time, show us how to get along with them. Give us loving, forgiving and understanding hearts. Toughen our hides so that we don’t take offense so easily. Show us how to have harmony in all of our relationships. Help us to acknowledge other people’s points of view and guide us to respectfully agree to disagree with one another when necessary.

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. [James 1:19-21 (MSG)]

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