When you think of women in the Bible, I seriously doubt Euodia and Syntyche are the first to come to mind. In fact, you may not even know who they are. So let’s fix that! Turn to the book of Philippians.
Once you’re there, I can give you a little background on the book of Philippians. Throughout the book, Paul is encouraging the Philippian church to practice selflessness. He does this by presenting examples of people who put others first: himself (1:12-26), Christ (2:5-11), his helper Timothy (2:19-24), mutual friend Epaphroditus (2:25-30), and himself a second time (3:1-14). After giving all these examples, he leaves the congregation with this petition: “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel” (4:2-3).
We can see in this passage a few key facts about Euodia and Syntyche. First, I want to notice that they were good women. They were members of the church, and they’d evidently helped Paul in his mission works in some way. Secondly, they couldn’t get along. The third observation I want to make comes from the context found in the rest of the book. Since Paul focuses so heavily on selflessness, we can infer that this quarrel between Euodia and Syntyche stemmed from their selfishness.
The truth is, just about any quarrel or fight between people can be traced back to our own selfish wants– our desire to put ourselves first. Take a look at 2:3: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” That’s how we make quarrels in our lives go away. By putting others first, we’ll be more willing to compromise and therefore avoid fighting, not to mention we’ll be more effective Christians!
1. What kinds of selfish desires can keep brothers and sisters in Christ from getting along? How do I target these desires in my own life?
2. Is there anyone in the church that I don’t get along with? Why don’t I get along with that person? Can I trace the problem back to my own selfishness?
3. If so, how can I fix this problem? (Be specific!)
4. Take another look at 2:3. What role does “humility of mind” play in selflessness? Study it out!
5. Paul enlisted the church to help Euodia and Syntyche solve their problems (4:3). Do I go to the church for help when I’m having a sin problem? If not, why not?