The Herald Weekly Vol XV : 34

Be of the Same Mind

On 3 August, I wrote about establishing peace and making reconciliation with others. This is never an easy thing to do, especially when it happens among those who are serving the Lord together.

The Apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Philippian Church, mentioned two
persons, Euodias and Syntyche (Phil 4:2) who were serving together in the same church. Some commentators believe these were two pious women who served as deaconesses in the Church at Philippi, and had a disagreement over some points of doctrine and discipline. He appeals to
them to “be of the same mind” (vs 2). Other commentators think that Euodias was a woman, while Syntyche was a man, or husband of Euodias. Paul appeals to Syntyche as a “yokefellow” (someone who shares the same burden) in Phil 4:3 to “help those women which labored with me in the gospel”.

Disagreement among co-labourers or colleagues is not uncommon. One need not go very far to hear of the frequent arguments that take place in the workplace. Thus, it is not unusual to find that there are differences in opinion concerning how things ought to be carried out even in the church. For truly, as long as there are different individuals, there will be variance in perspectives.

The Apostle Paul does not make mention about the actual cause of the
differences between Euodias and Syntyche. Perhaps it was a very trivial
matter about how things ought to be done in the Lord’s work. But, this
difference between the two must have become so intense that it may have affected the others, and the work in the church. The matter must have resulted in some disunity that Paul felt the need to appeal to them to “be of the same mind.”

But what does it mean to “be of the same mind”? Does it mean that co-workers in the Lord’s work cannot have different opinions? I do not think that Paul is saying that Christians must always agree. That would result in a lack of initiative and simple compliance without enthusiasm in the things of the Lord.

To be of the same mind requires co-workers in the Lord’s work to:

a) Maintain peace

Some say it is easier to be at peace with others in the world than with fellow-Christians or fellow-servants of the Lord. Dissenting colleagues can walk away when they disagree with each other in the office. They can still carry on working in the same office, and may or may not speak to each other. But those worshipping in the same church, or working for the Lord in the same church may find it difficult to continue being in the same church when they do not agree with each other. But, the apparent peace that exists in the work place is not the same as the peace which Jesus Christ Himself promises to those who follow Him. Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (Jn 14:27) If there are differences among Christians, Jesus says that His Holy Spirit, the Comforter, will teach us all things; and that includes how differences are to be amicably resolved.

b) Uphold each other in love

Christians belong to the same family of Christ; and being of the same family, we should continue to love one another in the Lord. Christ taught His disciples to love one another. He emphasized the need for His followers to love one another because He demonstrated the Father’s love for us. He did not mention loving one another as a casual remark, but said, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” (Jn 15:12, 17). He emphasized that He does not call us His servants, but His friends, and that He has chosen us and ordained us to go and bear fruit. And love is one of the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22, 23).

Love among fellow-workers in the church is evident of their stedfastness in the Lord’s service. As Christ our Saviour demonstrates His love for us on the cross, so should His followers demonstrate their love for Him through their love for one another. God is love, and thus if we do not show love towards others in the family of God, then we are without God. Those who continue to sow discord among the believers have not fully understood what it means to be loved of God, and to love others. Thus, when God’s people are unable to love one another, the church will break up and many will fall from their faith.

c) Stay united in carrying out God’s work

In his epistle to the Corinthian Church, Paul wrote: “I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1 Cor 1:10). He mentioned that there were contentions among those in the house of Chloe (vs 11). There were those who claimed to be followers of Paul, of Apollos, of Cephas, of Christ. There were envying, strife and divisions among them (1 Cor 3:3-7). He reminded them that they were all saved in Christ through the different ministers whom God called to preach the gospel to them. Therefore, there should be no identification with any of the ministers but with Christ alone. He again emphasized that “he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his labour. For we are labourers together with God; ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” (1 Cor 3:8-9)

d) Be sober, be vigilant

Those who love the Lord, and serve Him are warned to “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking who he may devour.” (1 Pet 5:7) The devil is the “false accuser” or “slanderer”. When Paul spoke of the deacons, he says, “So must their wives be grave, not slanderers.” (1 Tim 3:11), and again, he says, “Men shall be false accusers” (2 Tim 3:3). When Peter wrote about the devil, he may not be referring to an imaginary horned creature whispering evil thoughts into our ears; but the embodiment of human enmity, and evil speaking of others. Hence, he warns the believers to be sober and vigilant because any Christian can fall prey to the devil’s snares by slandering others or bringing false teaching into the church causing instability in the church. The devil seeks to “devour” the feeble-minded, the self-centred ones, and those who pride themselves above others and Christ.

Therefore, those who serve the Lord must resist the devil, and remain steadfast in faith, for “the God of grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen settle you.”

May God grant His grace and strength to all of us who have been chosen to serve Him in the different ministries of the Church.

Pastor Bob Phee

One sure way of peacemaking is to let the fire of contention alone. Neither fan it, nor stir it, nor add fuel to it, but let it go out of itself. – C. H. Spurgeon.

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