25th April 2021

Dissolving disagreements 

I have a friend with two small preschool boys, and because they’re so close in age, they have a tendency to fight over toys. To keep her sanity, she told them that if they can’t resolve their disagreement without fighting, they have to work on a 100-piece puzzle until they finish it. For two preschool boys, a 100-piece puzzle takes an eternity to finish. They have to work together, and by the time they’re done, they’ve forgotten what they were angry about.

This story reminds me of a reference in the Bible to two adults who were at odds. It appears in the letter to the Philippians, where Paul writes:

I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. Philippians 4:2-3 (NRSV)

The Bible is silent about what caused division between these two women, but it’s clear from the text that they had worked together well, even against difficulties, to promote the good news about Jesus and his love and acceptance. Their disagreement can make us pause when we think about holding grudges or having a negative attitude against others, particularly those who are believers.

While many things can cause disagreements in relationships, this passage presents a challenge to be ‘of the same mind in the Lord’.  This shifts our perspective. It’s like the story I told about my friend’s little boys who were fighting over toys. When the little boys had the same goal in mind—finishing that puzzle—they remembered that they really loved each other, and their fight over the toys didn’t really seem that important anymore.

As believers, much of what we disagree about might be important to us, but it probably isn’t a dealbreaker when it comes to whether or not we believe in Jesus’s acceptance and love for everybody. It’s our human tendency to focus on smaller issues. These might seem easier to control or judge in ourselves and others, rather than holding on to the reality of Christ’s mind being in each of us through the Holy Spirit.

Paul’s correction to Euodia and Syntyche is to lift their eyes from their disagreement and see the goodness of God’s Spirit at work in them and through them. This is having ‘the same mind in the Lord’.

If we’re spectators to a disagreement, our role is like the ‘loyal companion’ Paul addresses and encourages us to help those at odds to see each other in a different light. Rather than listening to complaints, we point to Christ and call one another up to be of one mind in him.

So, the next time you feel irritated at a brother or sister in Christ, you don’t need to do a 100-piece puzzle. Instead, look to Jesus and focus on the goodness of the Holy Spirit. Notice the same Spirit that is working in you is also working in them and through them. He is there; you just need the right mindset to see.  

Praying for you ‘to be of the same mind in the Lord’.

Presented by Cara Garrity


About the presenter:
Word of Life each Sunday is taken from ‘Speaking of Life’, (https://www.gci.org/videos/media-speaking-of-life/), a public resource video on the USA website of Grace Communion International. Cara Garrity is an elder and Development Coordinator for GCI in the USA.

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