While talking with a friend this morning about Pastor’s recent sermons in Philippians, I suddenly realized that there’s an interesting parallel in Paul’s writings to something Jesus said. Take a look:
Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:20)
3 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. 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:3–4)
The more I consider it, the more I think that this can’t be a coincidence. Perhaps Paul’s statement that his fellow workers’ names are written in the book of life jogged his memory of one of Jesus’ sayings. Jesus said this was a cause for rejoicing, so Paul commands the Philippians to rejoice. There shouldn’t be a paragraph break between verses 3 and 4; they’re part of the same thought.
Paul draws the battle lines between conflict and joy. Euodia and Syntyche are in conflict; they’re not considering the fact that their names are both written in the book of life together. They are both “in the Lord,” made one with Christ. If they realized this fact, they would stop fighting and instead rejoice “in the Lord,” knowing that “the Lord is near” (verse 5).
When counseling believers in conflict with one another, I’ve pointed out that they have no choice but to spend eternity with each another. The fact is that we are called to a gospel partnership, so we must be at peace; we don’t have room for conflict. Instead, we need to “think about” and “practice” the excellent, praiseworthy things that have to do with our union with Christ (verses 8–9). Then, and only then, “the God of peace will be with you” (verse 9). So then we can rejoice.