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Overcoming Disunity Philippians 4a

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Philippians 4:1-5

Stephen Caswell © 2004

I Don't Want to Be One!

Each Sunday our minister presents a "children's sermon" to all the young children. Recently a bright-eyed three-year-old girl listened intently as he explained that God wanted them all to get along and love each other. "God wants us all to be one," he said. To which the little girl replied, "But I don't want to be one. I want to be four!" -- Marilyn McCoy


Psalm 133:1 speaks of the blessings of unity. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity! Unfortunately this doesn't always happen. Anxiety and strife were causing division in the Philippian Church. Two ladies weren't getting on. Instead of striving for the cause of Christ, they strove with each other. Their conflict was dividing the whole Church as people took sides. Paul implored them to work together for the cause of Christ. To unite in Christ's service and forget their differences. In chapter 4 Paul instructs us how to have the secure mind. The mind that rests completely in Christ's sufficiency. Or as Paul states it in verse 13. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Paul tells them how to overcome disunity. He tells them it will require two things.

I.  Joint Service   &   II. Joyful Service

a. Stand Fast In The Lord

Philippians 4:1 Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.


Paul's love for them is expressed in the words he uses to describe them; beloved, longed for brethren, joy and crown. He cared for them dearly and sought to restore their unity. Paul began this chapter with a command for the whole Church to stand fast in the Lord. The word therefore connects this command with the previous verses describing Christ's return and the glorification of His saints. Because Jesus Christ will soon return and glorify His people shouldn't they work together for His Kingdom now? If we all belong to Christ and long to spend eternity with Him shouldn't we get on together now? God can enable us to do this. Christ is our sufficiency to live the Christian life with joy.

The words stand fast sthkw means to persevere, be steadfast, to be stationary. When God's people stand fast in the Lord they enjoy unity. This is because we all serve the same Lord. When we stand firm in Him we naturally stand together. However God doesn't expect us to stand in our own strength, but in His strength. Ephesians 6:10-11 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. The Lord gives us the strength to stand and the right focus of who we should oppose. Are you asking God for strength to stand fast?

As Christians unite in Christ's service their differences are put aside. As they stand fast against the Adversary they enjoy unity. One of Satan's schemes is to divide and conquer. He seeks to divide us and weaken our service for God. Division and strife have plagued the Church throughout its history. We face this same problem today. Are you endeavoring to keep the unity that God has given us? Are you standing fast in the Lord?


b. Seeks One Mind In The Lord


Philippians 4:2 I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.


The old saying united we stand and divided we fall is certainly true in the Christian Church. Paul has encouraged unity through out this letter and does so again here. This time he mentions the names of two people causing division. We don't know very much about these two ladies except what is revealed in these two verses. Euodia Eu*wdia means fragrance whilst Syntyche Suntuch means fortunate. Unfortunately these ladies weren't living up to their good names. They weren't getting on together. One of my lecturers at college called them odious and so touchy.

Since Paul doesn't discuss any doctrinal problems it was probably a personality clash. They didn't see things the same way and it affected the whole Church. Nevertheless Paul implored them to be of the same mind in the Lord. In the light of the rest of the letter that meant having the mind of Christ. Jesus Christ revealed His attitudes towards people by becoming a voluntary servant. He served others and laid down His life for them. If these two ladies followed Christ's humble example they would easily settle their differences.

Talk about what you believe and you have disunity. Talk about Who you believe in and you have unity. -- E. Stanley Jones

Verse 3 indicates that in the past they had labored with Paul in the Gospel. Then something happened and now they were striving against one another. They lost sight of their goals and who the enemy was. Paul pleads with them to have the same mind, to follow Christ's example of humble service. As an apostle he could have commanded them to do this but Paul graciously sought their cooperation instead. He implored them to get along together. In the Lord they could certainly do this. They could put aside their differences and serve God as they had at the start. God could provide the resources they needed for unity. In the Lord we acquire the same goals and values. In Christ we learn to humbly serve others.


The Spirit's Fire -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon

There once was a blacksmith who had two pieces of iron which he wished to weld into one. He took them just as they were, all cold and hard, and put them on the anvil, and began to hammer with all this might, but they were still two pieces, and they would not unite. At last he remembered what he should never have forgotten. He thrust both of them into the fire, took them out red-hot, laid one on the other, and by one or two blows of the hammer they soon became one.


In the same way when believers work together for Christ He joins them together. When we are on fire for Him we soon forget our differences and become one. It is usually people who aren't serving that have the greatest differences with each other.

Remember Psalm 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity! Do you have the mind of Christ? Do you have one mind with others in the fellowship? Are you enjoying the blessings of unity? If not can I encourage you to get involved in serving Christ! People faithfully serving the Lord are too busy to argue over their differences.

c. Strives With Fellow Workers


4:3 And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.


Paul then commanded some one called true yoke fellow to help these ladies to work together. Paul wanted the fellowship to help these ladies sort out their differences. The words fellow workers, labored and yoke fellow all translate Greek words that begin with the preposition sun. The meaning of sun is with or together. Paul was asking the Philippians to work together for Jesus Christ. This involved friendship, fellowship and hardship as they labored together. God calls us to help each other in His service. The work is to great for one or two.

We must all work together as part of a team. If we see brothers fighting one another we may be able to mediate and encourage them to put Christ first. When Christ has central place in our lives it is much easier to forgive and forget. When we seek to please Jesus we can't hold grudges against a brother or sister. After all Christ loves them as well as us. And He calls us to love one another. If all our names are written in heaven shouldn't we work together now? The Book of Life referred to in verse 3 is the register of heavens citizens. Jesus Christ is head of all saints, He is our King. Therefore shouldn't we unite under Him.


No Solos in the Book of Revelation -- Graham Kendrick.

Interestingly, of all the songs in the Book of Revelation, not one is a solo.  The twenty-four elders sing and cast their crowns before His feet, the united voices of countless angels resound, every living creature in heaven and earth and under the earth and all that is in them are joined in one song.  Those who are victorious over the beast are given harps and a song to sing. In every case multitudes of people or angels unite in the same song with absolute unity.




a. Stands Fast In The Lord

Are you asking God for strength to stand each day? Do you love and greet all of the brethren here at West Orange? Or do you hold grudges against other believers? God desires unity!


b. Seeks One Mind In The Lord

Are you endeavoring to keep the unity God has given us? Do you have one mind with other saints? Do you have the mind of Christ? Or do you expect people to see things your way? Christ's mind set was humble. He sought to help people and put their needs before His own.

c. Strives With Fellow Workers

Are you working together with other believers in Christ's service? Or are you doing your own thing or nothing? Are you cooperating with your fellow workers? Do you seek to reconcile your differences, or do you bear grudges year after year? Are you helping or Hindering the work of Christ?

II. Joyful Service

a. Rejoices In The Lord   Phil 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!


In verse 4 Paul commands believers to rejoice. Can you command joy? Yes you can. When it is focused in the Lord you can. Paul commanded them to rejoice in the Lord. In fact he repeated the same command again because it's important. We rejoice in the perfection of who God is and what He has done. The Lord is unchanging, ever faithful. For this reason we can always rejoice in Him. God never changes therefore we can rejoice always even in the deepest trials. Paul commands Christians to rejoice in the Lord because it is the right thing to do. Psalm 147:1 Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant, and praise is fitting.

As we read the Psalms we see how the psalmist does this very thing time and again. The Lord is holy and worthy to receive our praise. He rules righteously with wisdom power and love. Shouldn't we praise Him for Who He is? Our joy is not conditioned upon circumstances like happiness. Real joy comes from our relationship with God. It is based upon the sure foundation of our salvation, what God has done for us. We have eternal life in Him and nothing can change that. God has adopted us into His family and given us a wonderful inheritance. God has bestowed His grace upon us in full measure. We have the presence of His Spirit and the promises of His word. We are kept securely in the palm of His hands.

If these things are true shouldn't we continually rejoice in the Lord for His goodness to us? We can never lose the things that really matter. If you can't rejoice in the Lord always perhaps you hold earthly things more dearly then eternal things. Paul wrote this joyful epistle from prison. If anyone had a right to feel discouraged it was Paul. The Churches at Rome and Philippi had problems with disunity, and he was in prison and could nothing about it. To make things worse he may soon lose his life. Yet in all of this Paul rejoiced. How? Because he rejoiced in the Lord!  


Romans 8:31-39 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Beyond Happiness

The Bible nowhere speaks about a "happy" Christian; it talks plentifully of joy. Happiness depends on things that happen, and may sometimes be an insult: joyfulness is never touched by external conditions, and a joyful heart is never an insult. -- Oswald Chambers

b. Reveals Gentleness In The Lord


Philippians 4:5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.


Paul's fourth command was to reveal gentleness to all men. The word gentleness ejpeikh" means mild, kind, yielding, moderation, patient. This describes someone who suffers long. They don't explode in rage when provoked. A gentle person is very reasonable and patient with all people. But how can you be patient with all men? Some people are intolerable! By realizing that the Lord is nearby. He can strengthen you and enable you to be patient with the most trying people. If Christians strive with others what sort of witness do they give? How has God's grace changed their life? God desires that His people be known for their gentleness and patience.

Of the 5 verses we looked at this morning the Lord is mentioned in 4 of them. He is the one who enables us to stand fast, have one mind and rejoice always. He also enables us to be gentle and kind. Romans 12:17-21: Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Therefore If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Isaac The Peace Maker

Isaac is a good example of overcoming evil with good. Genesis 26 tells us how he moved to the valley of Gerar and dwelt there. His herdsmen dug a well to water their flocks. Then the herdsmen of from Gerar strove with Isaac over the well. They claimed that it belonged to them. So Isaac dug another well and they strove with him again. Then Isaac moved on and dug another well. This time the herdsmen didn't strive with him. In fact they came to him and sought peace. Isaac overcame evil with good. He was a peacemaker. He revealed gentleness. 


a. Rejoices In The Lord


Do you rejoice in the Lord always? Do you praise God for Who He is? Do you acknowledge all that God has done for you and rejoice? Is your joy conditioned upon circumstances? Or does your relationship with God cause you to rejoice always? Is God the center of your joy? 

b. Reveals Gentleness In The Lord


Are you known for your gentleness and patience? Or do you have a short fuse? Do you draw on God's strength in trials? He is near and able to help you!


There are 2 important ingredients for Church unity, Joint Service & Joyful Service.

I.  Joint Service  

a. Stands Fast In The Lord

Are you asking God for strength to stand each day? Are you standing fast with your brethren?


b. Seeks One Mind In The Lord

Do you have one mind with others in the fellowship? Do you have the mind of Christ? Or do you expect people to see things your way? If so will you seek the mind of Christ?

c. Strives With Fellow Workers

Are you working together with other believers in Christ's service? Are you laboring for the Gospel? Are you helping or hindering the work of Christ?

II. Joyful Service

a. Rejoices In The Lord


Do you rejoice in the Lord always? Do you praise God for Who He is? Is God the center of your life, your joy? 


b. Reveals Gentleness In The Lord


Are you known for your gentleness and patience? Do you draw on God's strength in trials? He is near and able to help you! Real unity in the Church comes as we work together. It requires a joint effort and a joyful effort.

Benediction  2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

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