If you’re looking for baby names, how about these two beauties:
I know what you’re probably thinking: “I knew a Euodia in high school, and she was a total jerk.”
But wouldn’t those names look absolutely fantastic on a monogrammed diaper bag or a Christmas stocking? You know they would.
Seriously though, would you like to have been either Euodia or Syntyche when the letter to the Philippians was read out loudto the entire congregation for the first time? Honestly, I’m not even sure I can pronounce their names, but that was probably the least of their problems, based on the fourth chapter of Paul’s letter to this church. In point of fact, these two women may not have even been in the same room together when this letter was written.
Euodia and Syntyche had a serious problem with one another. A problem that caused God to record their names FOREVER in Scripture. Yikes.
What was it that had happened between these two women that prompted the Holy Spirit (by way of Paul) to say, “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord” (Ph. 4:2-3)?
Did Syntyche steal Euodia’s secret recipe for unleavened sourdough bread and subsequently publish it in Good Housekeeping? Was Euodia blatantly flirting with Syntyche’s husband during a potluck? The nerve of that Euodia!
All joking aside, whatever the exact altercation may have been, it was certainly very serious in their minds because they were NOT in agreement when Paul wrote this letter. In fact, it was to the point that they were going to need some help if they were going to reconcile.
And how does Paul handle this problem? Does he dump out all of the details of their personal squabble onto the pages of Scripture and sift through them with the fine toothcomb of the Holy Spirit? Does he take sides, pointing out which one of them should feel validated and which one should feel humiliated? Does he lecture about their attitudes, their behavior, or the negative influence that they’re probably having on everyone else in the church?
He says, “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.”
Paul then proceeds to write one of the most encouraging and well-known sections of Scripture on the subjects of joy, reasonableness, prayer, thanksgiving, peace, right thinking, and the cure for anxiety (vs. 4-8).
Maybe he’s onto something.
When was the last time we approached a problem in this way? When was the last time that – instead of poring over the minutia of someone else’s offenses in an attempt to rationalize our own behavior and condemn theirs – we concentrated on their positive qualities, and the fact that we are BOTH going to heaven someday if we continue to serve the same God?
When was the last time that we helped two Christians through conflict by focusing on their mutual commonalities, their spiritual bond, and their heavenly destiny?
It’s worth a try, isn’t it? I mean, if it’s good enough for people with names like Euodia and Syntyche, surely it could work with little ol’ Jeremy.
So, here’s some advice: the next time we find ourselves at odds with another Christian, let’s try this. And the next time we find two Christians at odds with each other, let’s try this.
I don’t know what happened with Euodia and Syntyche. I would like to think that they worked out their differences (with the help of the church) and “agreed in the Lord;” but maybe they didn’t. Either way, Paul’s approach is, quite literally, inspired.