My ex-brother-in-law died last week. I had the privilege of performing his youngest daughter’s wedding a couple years ago. He was not there. I asked her why and she said she didn’t want him around. He had broken, in 12 brokenone way or another, every friendship or every relationship he had in life. Later, I saw my other three nieces and nephews (his children) at a birthday party and he was not there. I asked them how he was doing and none of them had any idea. He had just deserted them. They wanted nothing to do with him. I remember him well and can remember his abusive behavior to my sister and his abusive behavior towards others as well. He was not a very nice man! All his life he lived alienated from those who had loved him the most. There will be no funeral for him.

He was not a very happy man either. Nothing will kill our joy in life more than to live with animosity and bitterness towards another. In Philippi there were two women who were at odds with each other over some issue. We don’t know what that was, but according to many commentators these two women lead a serious division in the church and Paul knew the pain and misery they were causing to all involved. God’s love can’t exist in an environment where hatred and animosity exist. So before he finishes his letter he addresses these two women by name in Philippians 4:2. They have gone down in history for thousands of years because of their disagreement. He says, “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.” Their names are both hard to pronounce but Harry Ironside called them, “Odious and Soon-touchee!”

They were probably both right at some point. That’s usually the case. Proverbs teaches us that when we hear one side of the story it sounds right until we hear the other side. The problem is each party focuses solely on their own “rightness” and refuses to hear the other side. I often tell married partners “You can be right or you can be married. You take your pick.” Yet both parties are always wrong when the problem festers and becomes divisive. Paul implores each of them not just one. He entreats each one individually. He had spent some time talking about how Christ’s mind worked and called on these women to think like Christ. It is clear to me that Paul is not calling them “in the Lord” to agree on each detail of their debate but for both to take the mind of Christ. Christ’s mind is a humble mind. It’s the mind of one who did not cling to his glory as God, but emptied Himself for us. It’s a plea for humility and self-sacrifice in our relationships with others. No marriage will survive without it. No family will survive without and no Church will survive without it.