Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. 2 I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I ask you also, faithful companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Philippians 4:1-3 ESV
What would you consider joy and crown in your life? Your family? Your education? Your career? To Paul, his joy and crown are the brothers and sisters in Philippi. The word “crown” used here is a Greek word describing the crown to an athlete who had won the race. Paul had a dear relationship with the church in Philippi. A few reasons were noted in today’s passage. In this church, Paul had his “true companions”; he had brothers and sisters who “labored side by side with him in the gospel together”; he had “fellow workers whose names are in the book of life.” Paul loved these brothers and sisters and was also proud of them. They are Paul’s joy and crown that he could proudly carry and present. However, it didn’t mean this church was problem free. Among those who labored with Paul in the gospel were the two sisters, Euodi and Syntyche. It appeared they were in disagreement, and the conflict must have significantly impacted the church that even Paul, being away, had received the news. Instead of favoring one side, Paul entreated both of these sisters to agree with the Lord. To agree in the Lord is not about agreeing with one another but putting Christ and His love first and appreciating and accepting one another. Paul urged them to settle in the Lord as the two sisters seemed to have forgotten that despite the differences the two were holding, they shared the most important common ground, which is the Lord, Jesus Christ, whose gospel they had worked closely together to share.
When we are in Christ, we are also brought into the family of God from different backgrounds and families, with different personalities, lifestyles, and talents. We may be different in many ways, but we share one important common ground: Jesus Christ, the One who died and rose for us and brought us to this family of His! In this family, we can also find faithful companions with whom we would share laughter and tears together; we would walk and work side by side for His work; and most of all, we all have our names written on the book of life. Paul encouraged the brothers and sisters to stand firm in the Lord. This encouragement was made to the church as a whole and not just to an individual. Paul urged other coworkers to help Euodi and Syntyche to come to the same mind in the Lord. Agreeing in the Lord sometimes may not be easy, it is a choice and determination that needs to be made by the individuals, and it also takes great effort, support, and prayer from the body of Christ. Nevertheless, they can lift each other up to stand in the Lord.
To my fellow brothers and sisters in my church, you are my joy and crown! I pray that not only I but we can stand firm in the Lord, together, as one body. Together, WE can stand strong in the Lord; who is that solid common ground we have. Take a moment to thank the Lord and His family that He has brought you in. Appreciate and accept one another. I pray that you may also see it as your joy and crown and be the joy and crown of others.
Dear Lord, thank you for bringing me to your family! It’s a blessing on earth that we have your church and your family, where we can find true love, friendship, and companionship. Although we are different, you have brought us together. Help us to appreciate one another and to love one another. Help us to stand firm together in You!