Let’s be honest, it’s hard being a girl. Probably the most difficult thing about it is dealing with other girls. I wish I could tell you that once you graduate high school or even leave college that women suddenly and magically mature to the point where relationships between each other become simpler, but some of the most horribly nasty fights I have ever witnessed have been between grown women. There is nothing new under the sun; did you know that there is an entire book of the Bible that was written about a girl fight?
Paul wrote Philippians because there was a problem in the church at Philippi: two women, Euodia and Syntyche absolutely could not get along (Philippians 4:2). Can you imagine having a letter from the apostle Paul read out loud in front of your entire congregation in which he personally calls you out by name. How embarrassing. He obviously thought this problem was serious enough it needed to be addressed. There is not much that can tear a congregation apart faster than two women attacking one another. Throughout Philippians, Paul gives three ways to deal with those people in our congregation who aren’t quite so easy to get along with.
Develop an attitude of humility.
Paul begins this letter by illustrating a humble attitude in a major way. He is in prison and yet he rejoices because it means he has the opportunity to win people for Christ (Philippians 1:12-26). What is most comfortable or preferable for Paul doesn’t even come into play here, his only concern is that the gospel is spread. Paul doesn’t just stop there though, he describes the humility it took for Jesus to empty Himself and become a servant. (Philippians 2:1-8)
If our main joy comes from furthering God’s Kingdom, then it becomes a lot harder for the little things to irritate us. If we are truthful, most of the time when these fights start it is because one (or more likely both) parties are being selfish. What do I want? Am I getting my way? How does this make me look? If we thought less about “I” and “me” and more about the spread of the gospel imagine what the church would look like!
Surround yourself with people who will help you be a better Christian.
Paul doesn’t simply scold these ladies and tell them to deal with it. He encourages the congregation to help in the matter (Philippians 4:3). No one can possibly be Christ-minded 100% of the time; sometimes we all need help steering back on course. That’s why God gave us the church. He knew we would need this encouragement.
Who is the person you call when you are fighting with another Christian? Is it someone who will commiserate with you or is it someone who will hold you accountable? Is it someone who will gossip with you or someone who will encourage you to repair the relationship? Be sure to surround yourself with friends who will encourage you to handle disputes in a Christ-like manner, and more than that, be that kind of friend to others.
Dwell on the good in every person.
Philippians 4:8 is one of the most taken out of context verses in all of scripture; I have been guilty of doing this myself. When Paul commands the church in Philippi to dwell on whatever is true, honorable, right, pure and lovely, he isn’t simply discussing the random thoughts that flow through our mind. He is giving these women a solution for their dispute. They are to think of what is excellent about one another. So if I may, I’ll rephrase this verse to make more sense to us: “Finally, sisters, whatever is true about her, whatever is honorable about her, whatever is right about her, whatever is pure about her, whatever is lovely about her, whatever is of good repute about her, if there is any excellence in her and if anything worthy of praise about her, dwell on these things.”
As girls it is so easy to dwell on the negative so much that it swallows us whole. The more we repeat certain things or replay wrongs done to us, the harder it is to get past them. Paul wisely tells us to dwell on the good things in one another. How would you like it if whenever someone saw you or heard your name all they could think of was the worst thing you have ever done? We would hate being defined by one moment like that, and yet we do it to our Christian sisters all the time.
There will always be times in our lives when we have trouble getting along with other Christian women, but for the sake of the church it is so important that we continually make our best effort to mend these relationships. When the body of Christ is functioning in harmony it can reach so many more people than when it’s damaged and bruised. Take a step today. Be a peacemaker.