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4 years ago

Toxic Friendship

Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement.

Philippians 4:2

Human relationships share a striking characteristic with plutonium. We don't recognize the energy stored in the bond until it is split. The destructive power released in an atomic reaction unfortunately compares closely with the injury and fallout created by the splitting of a strong human relationship.

Euodia and Syntyche represent those countless relationships that have advanced the kingdom of God for a while, but have also caused it great damage. How ironic that in his great letter about joy to the Philippians, Paul felt it necessary to single out two key members who needed to reslove their differences. For them, joy would be impossible without settling their disagreement. And, as if to get them started with a motivation, Paul reminds them why they should reconcile: "because you belong to the Lord." The thought relates closely to Jesus words about the way the world watch his disciples: "Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." (John 13:35).

This was obviously a public conflict, and Paul confronted it quickly. He addressed the two women directly. He challenged other believers to get helpfully involved. They all need to remember their place in the larger group who "belong to the Lord."

Hardly a church gathers around the globe in which several Euodia/Syntyche conflicts are not being enacted. The fallout radiation injures those directly and indiredcly involved. Trying to help often means to get hurt. But, a willingness to get hurt surely characterizes the mind of Christ. He described it earlier in the letter (2: 5-11). A Christlike attitude sets aside personal safety for the sake of others. Yet Paul affirmed the most distinct characteristics of the mind of Christ is joy. The way of joy leads through pain.

Have you prayed for the Euodia/Syntyches you know today? Were your own relationships included in that prayer? Have you asked the Lord for a willingness to settle disagreements? Joy is an enangered species when Christlike attitudes are in short supply.

This post is from Tyndale House Publishers.

Joanne S. Reynolds

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