Proper 23
Philippians 4:1-9

Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi is filled with thanksgiving, rejoicing and praise. It is a letter from the heart of a loving and caring pastor. We see in this epistle one commendation after another until we come to the first nine verses of chapter 4. Here, as Guy King states it, we find the “fly in the ointment.” The text before us reveals a conflict in the church and a loving pastor’s admonition to those involved.
The Apostle Paul reveals his love for fellow Christians. Notice the natural progression from pastoral love, to pastoral concern, to pastoral instruction, and then to pastoral exhortation.

I. Love overcomes conflict (Philippians 4:1).
The word “therefore” plays a critical role to our understanding of the text as it points the reader back to the verses immediately preceding verse 1. It has been said that anytime you see the word “therefore” you ask what it is “there for.” The use of the word in verse 1 connects us to Philippians 3:17-21. The Apostle Paul had just addressed the topic of Christians’ citizenship in heaven. This becomes the backdrop for his appeal to proper conduct and relationship between Euodia and Syntyche in Philippians 4:3. This emphasis reminds us of the words of Jesus in John 13:35, “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
A. Paul’s Present Love (Philippians 4:1): “My beloved and longed for brethren.”
These words express Paul’s heartfelt love for the Philippian Christians at the present moment.
B. Paul’s Future Love (Philippians 4:1): “My joy and my crown.”
These words express Paul’s future love for the Philippian Christians. It is his way of saying that he would love them forever. The expression “joy and … crown” refer to the heavenly realm.
It is important to note that verse 1 begins and ends with the word “beloved.” There is no doubt about Paul’s love for the Philippian Christians.

II. Caring concern overcomes conflict (Philippians 4:2).
A. The Problem in the Church (Philippians 4:2): “I implore Euodia and I implore you Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.”
There was a breach in the relationship of two Christian women who were leaders and servants in the church. We are not told what the problem was, but it was significant enough to warrant an admonition from Paul. Often church conflict arises out of individual opinion rather than biblical doctrine. All church leaders should take great care regarding foolish things that cause conflict.
B. The People Involved in the Problem (Philippians 4:2): “I implore Euodia and I implore Snytyche.”
Can you imagine how these two ladies must have felt when they heard their names mentioned in Paul’s letter to their church? Paul lovingly and courageously put his finger on the problem.

III. Faithful instruction overcomes conflict (vv. 3-7).
These verses contain no less than four suggestions on how to respond to the conflict that threatened the unity and fellowship of the church.
A. (Philippians 4:3) Paul charged his fellow laborer, probably Epaphroditus, and the rest of his fellow laborers (all members of the church) to get involved in settling the dispute between Euodia and Syntyche.
B. (Philippians 4:4) Paul gave a straightforward challenge to be joyful: “Rejoice and again I say rejoice.” Conflict stifles joy. Christian witness is affected when joy is diminished.
C. (Philippians 4:5) Paul cautioned all who are involved to be gentle. We live in a broken and bruised world. The people on our church pews are often broken and bruised. We must minister in a spirit of gentleness.
D. (Philippians 4:6-7) Paul challenged his readers to not be anxious but to be prayerful and thankful. It is almost impossible to be upset with someone for whom you pray and for whom you are thankful.
C.T. Studd, a great missionary from another era, grew up in England and became known as a great cricket player (a British game). Studd once told someone that when he played cricket, he did not play fair. When questioned about his claim, he explained, “Because when I play, I pray.” Yes, in all things we should pray and give thanksgiving.

IV. Encouragement overcomes conflict (Philippians 4:8-9).
A. Think on the right things (Philippians 4:8).

Notice the list of things Paul gives that should occupy the mind of a Christian.
B. Do the right things (Philippians 4:9).
Knowing what to do is not enough. We must do what we know.
In verse 7, Paul mentioned the peace of God. In verse 9, he mentioned the God of peace. When we are at peace with God we will know the peace of God.

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