November 8, 2009

My merciful God

Every now and then I have a dream that shows me some sinful attitude in my life. I wake up with conviction about my sinfulness, but also a huge sense of relief that God didn’t put me through a similar and shameful experience in real life to show me the same thing.

Today’s devotional points to two women who were experiencing sinful attitudes in real life, enough to provoke a rebuke from the apostle Paul and to have their names forever recorded in the Word of God. 

I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. (Philippians 4:2)
Occasionally preachers call these two, Odious and Soon Touchy, but the next verse shows that they were co-laborers with Paul in the gospel. That tells me that the division between them was not a constant attitude or their general temperament. Instead, they had given in to a selfish temptation, inner pride, some form of demanding their own way. Their division may have been part of a greater division that was behind Paul’s admonition to the whole church about unity (2:2), or it may have been a disagreement between the two of them that dropped them out of usefulness in their service to the Lord.

Verse three says, “I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life” (Philippians 4:3).

This verse tells me that even with the imploring public request to these women, they needed help to recover the unity they had in Christ Jesus. It was there for them, but whatever caused the upset, Paul knew that the recipient of this letter (not named) and perhaps the entire church needed to be involved. Unity was too important to allow even two people in a congregation to be at odds with one another.

Two people who did not agree brought a rebuke that remains visible for more than two thousand years. This says volumes about the importance of getting along, of being of one mind with others in the church. When I think about the congregations that fight over everything from ‘is the pastor any good’ to ‘how many dishes are needed in the kitchen,’ I wonder what would happen if those of us who get into such spats and disagreements knew God would write our names in a book that will stand forever.

God could expose my every sinful thought and selfish idea to everyone. He could expose the smallest lack of harmony and human pride that causes trouble in a church. He did it concerning these two women. But He is also kind in His rebukes and often gives them privately. He graciously offers His people a chance to repent and change without the shame of public exposure. I don’t know what else to say. He is good and I do not deserve such grace.


Karin said...

To me these verses always showed that especially in the family of God it is good to talk about things openly and not try to hide them. I wonder if the men saw themselves in these two - they were also not immune to disunity.

Self does raise it's ugly head all the time in all of us. That's why the Savior came! We need to give up SELF - our own way - and become more like HIM!! Thank you Lord for your grace, mercy and Your amazing love!

Good thoughts!

LC said...

It always amazes me that whenever we say NO to self, the character and grace of Jesus Christ is there for us. He never leaves us and fills in as soon as we get out of His way.

Many blessings!