Click here to listen to this sermon.

Philippians 4:1-9

How do we stand firm?

  1. Have the same mind in the Lord. (v. 1-3) What sort of surprise or electric tension must have filled the room when Paul named names. Euodia and Syntyche were very important leaders in the Philippian congregation. They had worked along side Paul in his mission. However, they were quarreling.

  2. Rejoice Always! (v. 4) Internal conflicts and anxieties make us lose courage and creativity. We get depressed and angry and that only fuels the fire. It only makes us more anxious and paranoid. Paul encouraged the Philippians to rejoice in all situations – even those where joy might not be the typical response. How do we do that? First, our rejoicing is in Christ. We have comfort and encouragement in Christ. So, we can be encouraged and come together because we have a source of joy that is much deeper and richer than sugary glee. Rejoicing is more than happiness and enjoyment. Without denying sorrow and suffering, it means participating in the grace and peace of Christ regardless of our circumstances.

  3. Make it evident. (v. 5) Make what evident? KJV reads moderation. NIV reads gentleness. NLT reads consideration. What is it that we are supposed to make evident? Outside of biblical usage this word might be translated as “sweet reasonableness” (Matthew Arnold). Aristotle described it as a quality of character that respected justice, but was generous enough to allow that justice did not injure. In other words, it is the sort of maturity and graciousness in someone that they can forgive and not insist on demanding that all their rights be satisfied. That seems to work really well in this letter. That sounds a lot like the attitude of Christ who demand his rights but humbled himself. That sounds like the sort of attitude that could help a fractured, conflicted church family move toward peace.

  4. Finally, we need to think and act like Christ.

So what happened after this letter was read to this church family in Philippi? Euodia was on one side of the room. Syntyche was standing on the other side. Most likely after the reading of the letter, the congregation gathered around a table. Some folks brought bread and they shared with those who didn’t have any. Some folks brought wine and they shared with others. Wouldn’t it have been fitting if the church circled together, pulling in Euodia and Syntyche from their opposite sides and seated them at the table. And there in the presence of the Lord, these two women and all the church family prayed together. And Euodia served bread to Syntyche and Syntyche served a cup of joy to Euodia. And they ate and drank together with thanksgiving.

What will we do now that this letter has been read to us? “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 24 February 2008

 Link to next sermon

 Link to other sermons of Chris Benjamin