Growing Weary in the Fight

Samuel Rindlisbacher

Paul says in Ephesians, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph 6:12).

Whoever fights needs to be fully aware that this fight requires a lot of strength, time, and energy. To fight is to be attacked and in danger of being injured. Paul referred to Euodias and Syntyche, members of the church at Philippi, as “those women which laboured with me in the gospel” (v. 3). Neither woman had been sitting in the stands of their Christianity. They had fought for the gospel. They had joined and were very active in God’s cause. Paul could say of them, “whose names are in the book of life” (v. 3). Both women had proven themselves, and their lives testified to their faith.

But those who are at the front are also in the enemy’s sights. They are targeted and shot at by him. This is arduous, exhausting, and time- and energy-consuming. How quickly we can be tired out by it. Whoever fights also runs the risk of suffering a defeat. That was exactly what happened to Euodias and Syntyche. They, the gospel warriors, had quarreled and were at each other’s throats. The victory of faith was gone!

Their quarrel was so strong that it affected the entire church. Therefore, Paul had to admonish them publicly: “I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord” (v. 2). This public admonition is a clear indication that the dispute involved other believers as well.

Let’s remember that we, too, are in combat. We are also in danger of falling. How close to each other victory and defeat often lie. It is not for nothing the Bible warns us to, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet 5:8).

The devil had managed to divide these two women. We aren’t told what the cause of their argument was, who had started it, or who was more to blame. These questions don’t play a major role. To Paul, the resulting damage was much more important. Strife among Christians, discord among workers in God’s kingdom, is a tragedy enough on its own.

So, let’s remember one thing: when Christians quarrel, they have stopped fighting for the gospel. When Christians argue, it is no longer about the cause of Jesus, but mostly about their own affairs and interests. When Christians quarrel, the message of the gospel is lost and the person of Jesus Christ is dishonored. And finally, the laughing “third party” is the adversary of God. That was exactly the case here: these women had unwittingly gone from being ambassadors of Jesus to being the devil’s torch bearers.

Paul couldn’t stop this tragedy. He did everything he could to clarify the situation and bring about reconciliation. He commissioned a fellow laborer and wrote to him, “And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women…” (v. 3). Another translation reads, “Since you’re right there to help them work things out, do your best with them” (The Message). Paul struggled to put things right and settle the dispute. The apostle knew well that God’s peace can’t break through without forgiveness and mutual acceptance. Without reconciliation, no community is possible. For only through reconciliation can God’s Spirit work unhindered again. Then the name of Jesus will once again be in the center and be glorified.

May this be the same for each one of us personally, and also in our churches!

Midnight Call - 11/2018

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