Tag Archives: clean

Philippians 4:2-3; Brief Thoughts

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true 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.

In every place where people must stand together on principles, there is going to be strife and some contention. The stress of opposing viewpoints and passionate ideologies can and usually does lead to conflict. It is comforting to know that the Philippian church had some struggles among members. If the “jewel and crown” (4:1) of Paul’s ministry can have conflict, then the modern church should take encouragement. If such a compliment can be found among troubled Christians, then there is hope for the churches in the west, who find common the dissensions of trivialities.

Paul pleads with these two women, calling them to find some commonality in their faith in Jesus. He does not articulate a 4 step plan to resolve the conflict. He does not recommend a series of meetings with a pastor as discussion moderator. He does not even recommend eating pie together (everything is better with pie)! He calls them to found their affection for each other in their faith in Christ. His plea is a powerful example for Christian leaders. In times of conflict and strife, Christians must center their affections on Christ. Remind the people of God who it is they believe in. When strife and contention arise, it is Christ and deep understanding of His character that will resolve the troubles Christian’s often find themselves engaged in.

Deep thoughts about the character of Christ are important for two reasons. First, thinking deeply about Jesus puts in proper perspective the vanity of our passionate arguments. It is not uncommon to sit in church business meetings that have nothing to do with the Gospel of Jesus and everything to do with The arguments and debates over the color of the carpet, quality of kitchen materials, or the atmosphere of a room become trivial in the face of an authentic examination of Jesus’ character. When the church will put the deep doctrinal truths of Jesus before their eyes, the self-indulgent attitudes so common in the western church are exposed for what they are and they are replaced with appropriate and beautiful worship that glorifies God and unites believers. Second, thinking deeply about Jesus reminds the church of its mission. The mission of the church is to make God known in a world that rejects Him. When we examine Jesus’ character together and see that He was gracious to Judas and patient with Peter, the personalities that naturally frustrate one another are quickly forgiven and overlooked for the sake of the work of the gospel. Focusing on Christ puts the mission of Christ before the people.

Beloved leaders, please stop focusing on trivialities and attempting to resolve conflict with meetings that address felt needs and perceived offenses. You’re hurting Christianity. Instead, focus your efforts on teaching your people about the character of Jesus. Please. The church does not need unity of opinion, another program to answer disputes or even a good sermon series on resolution of conflict in the community. The church in the west needs Jesus. The church needs to know Him fully. Do not shy away from difficult doctrines that you think will be divisive. It is in this avoidance of an authentic examination of Jesus that the church finds itself arguing over preferences and methodologies. Please, point your people to Jesus’ character and nature, even if that character and nature are difficult for you to explain.

Take note of Paul’s exhortation to the leader of the church in Philippi. He reminds their leader four simple things. First, Paul calls him a “true companion” (v.3). Paul is not asking a subordinate to engage in this particular conflict. He is asking a friend who is joined together with him. The word used for “true companion” can be translated as “yoke-fellow.”[1] Paul reminds the leader that they are united together in the mission of Christ. What a tremendous thing to remember when confronting conflict in the church! Remember the tie that binds the church together. Disregard trivial offenses and remember that the members of the church are united in the mission of the gospel. Second, Paul calls the leader to help. Such a simple admonition. He does not insist that the leader solves the problem, or find a solution for their dispute on their behalf (though that may be necessary). Instead, he encourages him to, “help.” Leaders cannot fix the hearts of people, but they can point people to Jesus. Help your people by pointing them to Christ. Third, Paul reminds this brother that these women have served. Sometimes it is easy to forget the past service of a saint who is frustrating the work of the gospel in their personal conflict. Leaders need to remember when a person has sacrificed in the past. In acknowledging the past service of the saint that is in need of conflict resolution, the leader will be given hope that the relationship can be re-centered around the gospel, as the people in the conflict have exhibited a devotion to the gospel in the past. Finally, Paul reminds his friend that these ladies are believers. Believers ought to resolve disputes with the greatest of ease. The commonality of grace that has been given to the individual believer through Christ should serve to inspire the church and its leaders to extend the same depth of grace to one another.

Love well, work together, and strive together for unity.

[1] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

Clean Hands


The water poured over the palm of my hand as I blindly and routinely followed the process. You start at the heal of the palm massaging the soap into the hand, then between the fingers, and then down to the fingertips. Once you have rinsed thoroughly you repeat the process once more and then dry promptly with a towel. (This is the instruction in my Dad’s old medical textbook. I looked it up once because I was shocked that people had to be told how to do something so simple.) The water felt cool and refreshing. Eyes locked on my hands, I thanked the Lord for clean hands.

You might not know, but most diseases in our world can be prevented by washing your hands and basic sanitation. In many countries people die of bacterial infections because they don’t wash their hands properly. I remember as a child watching my Dad’s slide shows from his missionary trips to Africa. (Dad was a medical doctor, so those slides were gross, and awesome to a 12 year old.) Dad would say, “Educating mothers on basic sanitation can save entire generations of children! It’s as simple as teaching them to wash their hands and boil the water.”

So, I stand at the porcelain sink and ponder the great gift of clean hands. Free from disease, infection, and parasites all because of clean hands. I stand unafraid of some of the most common killers in our world today all because of clean hands. I stand with clean hands and I am able to wash them freely.

I repeat the process one last time and thank God again for clean hands.

It’s Friday, April 18th, 2014… Good Friday. The thought catches me unaware and I hold back tears. He washed me and I have clean hands.

This is the day that my hands are cleaned. Not because I washed them at some sink with soap, but because He is gracious and washed me clean by His death on a cross. This is the day that my God washed my sins away. My hands are clean because His love is great.

I wash my hands again and whisper thanks that He has made me clean. His blood covered over my sin soaked hands and washed away death. The refreshing water of life redeemed my soul from death. My hands are clean. I whisper thanks as I remember His great Love. I wipe away a tear, a gesture He will one day do for me as well. My hands are clean.