Can I be honest? I have a lot to learn. God is ALWAYS teaching me and correcting me, and because of that I always have a target rich arsenal of wonderful lessons to write about!
Recently, God taught me a great lesson about getting along with others. If you are like me, there is at least one person, that “someone,” in your life that, well, is simply difficult. There may be many “someone’s” but at LEAST one someone who you, for whatever reason, have a difficult time getting along with him or her. It could be a sister, a neighbor, a friend, a husband or an ex-husband, a mother-in-law, but there is probably someone out there who just rubs you the wrong way!
Maybe it is someone who has truly wronged you or hurt you or someone close to you.
I have that one person in my life. And while, thanks to books like The Bait of Satan by John Bevere and UnOffendable by Brant Hansen, I have learned to not take things personally, every once in awhile, something happens, and I revert back to my old ways of getting annoyed!
When this happened recently, I was perfectly prepared to pout and justify it, but fortunately, God used this incident to steer me in another direction.
While wrestling with the emotions of my perceived wrong, I decided to pray. I took it to the Lord. Instead of stewing, instead of being angry or bitter or pouting…instead of going to the phone as Joyce Meyers says, I took it to the throne!
As I prayed, alone, I poured out my heart to the LORD. I did what Jeremiah said to do in the Book of Lamentations. “Let him sit alone and keep silent, because God has laid it on him?” Lamentations 3:28
After praying, I went to bed. The next morning, in my quiet time, God gave me this passage!
Philippians 4: 1-3:
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work.
Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.
The Apostle Paul uses his letter to the Philippians to send some instructions on Christian unity. Apparently some of the church members were not getting along…can we relate?
The message is simple: Only in Christ is real unity and joy possible. Christ is our model for humility and service, and think about it if we have a heart for humility and service, if we put others needs before our own, if we can avoid being offended, guess what? We are going to get along with others, and we will have unity.
That hit me! I must admit I laughed out loud when I read the passage because I knew that I serve a God who CARES about me? He cares enough to not allow me to pout. We serve a God who loves us enough that He wants us to get along!
The following Sunday, the sermon was on unity. This was confirmation. The passage was John 17: 20-21.
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.”
The minister pointed out that this was the night before Jesus died. The minister then asked the congregation, if they new they were going to die the next day what would we pray for? He highlighted what Jesus prayed for:
“I pray…for those who believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they may also be one in Us…”
Jesus’ last prayer was that we would get along! Wow! A friend sitting next to me mentioned after the service, that as a mother, that would be her prayer, that her children would get along!
We are those children! We are His children! He is talking to us!
I was so grateful because after God gave me the passage in Philippians, I knew what He wanted me to do. I had to forgive and not be offended. I had to get along!
For study purpose, let’s look at this passage in Philippians. The two women’s names Euodia and Syntyche. Matthew Henry’s Commentary says no two names contradict the meaning of their names as much as these.
Eudia means: Good or Prosperous Journey
Syntyche means: Pleasant Acquaintance
Paul’s letter tells us that despite their names, these two women caused dissension in the church at Philippi. Now the commentary points out that it is not clear if the conflict was between the two of them or between the two of them and the church. It doesn’t matter…they were not getting along, and whether it was they weren’t getting along with each other or they were banded together and not getting along with members of the church…there was conflict and it was causing dissension!
We all have different personalities. We all have different backgrounds. None of the differences should separate us from the unity in Christ. We must honor the uniqueness of each person. We must forgive, turn the other cheek, fall on our sword, whatever it takes we must get along!
We need to be like the true companion described in verse 3:
“And I urge you, true companion, help these women…”
Let us be part of the solution…not the problem!
God not only wants you and me to get along with each other, to have unity, He will help us accomplish this goal. There are five encouragements to consider as you try to have unity!
First, you are not alone! Who doesn’t have a “someone” in your life?
Second, think about how freeing it would be if you COULD get along with that difficult person! It is nice not to waste time and energy on the negative activity that goes with not getting along with someone! That is reason enough to try and reconcile.
Third, getting along, unity makes God SO happy!
Matthew Henry’s Commentary asks the question: What would Jesus say to BOTH sides and then answers the question: He died to make us one and will settle for nothing less!
Finally, He has sent His Holy Spirit to help us! We don’t have to try to get along…alone! The Holy Spirit wants and will help us accomplish this! What God calls us to do, He equips us to do. He calls us to get along, and He equips us to get along!
So after I read the Philippians’ passage in the early morning quiet time and after I heard the Sunday sermon on unity, God was not finished with me! The following week I received the weekly devotional from Sylvia Gunter of The Father’s Business Ministry. It was entitled: WHO’S RIGHT VS. WHAT’S RIGHT?
Often times our conflicts boil down to Who is Right? She says:
“It is easy to get caught up in who is right instead of what is right. When we focus on who’s right, our motivation is: proving my point, justifying my opinion, proving someone wrong, correcting someone, being vindicated.”
Then she asks this question:
“Do any of these motivations honor God?” The answer, of course, is NO!
“When we focus on What is Right, we can graciously stand for truth and do so with the heart of the Father. God wants all men to be reconciled.”
Matthew 5:9, Jesus, Himself says:
“BLESSED are the peace makers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
My heart softened! I repented. I told the Lord that I heard him loud and clear. I made a choice to think about WHAT is right and forget about WHO is right.
The truth is we grieve God and hinder the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives when we carry an attitude of anger, unforgiveness or disunity.
Let us choose to allow whatever situation or conflict we are having with another person to, instead, as Sylvia Gunter says: “be God’s instrument to train us in grace and righteousness!”
She also points out: “Our heavenly Father is best able to correct His own children!”
Don’t we get annoyed when another mother disciplines our children…we can say, “yes, you have my permission to discipline,” but the truth is, if we saw another mother speaking sharply to our children, we would think…hey, wait a minute! That is what we are doing to God’s children!
Now there are times when we are called to come along side a sister and a brother to bring them back to the Lord, but that is not what I am talking about here. I am talking about having conflict or not getting along with someone!
Let us make a decision…let us choose this week to settle our differences, to forgive, to make a decision to get along with “that” person! I truly believe that God will honor that choice!
I want to close the way Sylvia Gunter closed her devotion:
“Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will show each one of us the Father’s heart. Obey Him, no mater the cost. May Jesus be glorified as you seek to be reconciled with all your brothers and sisters in Christ?”