Two women are talking at worship and one says, “Well, I had fun at your house last night but next time we should do it at mine.” What happens? The other one thinks (but does not SAY), “Well, she says she had a good time at my house last night but apparently it wasn’t clean enough or the food wasn’t good enough because next time she doesn’t want to come here.” Was that really what was meant? Possibly, but probably not. The problem is that as women we are VERY sensitive. This is one of our greatest attributes, it allows us to love deeply and fully, it makes us great servants and tremendous wives and mothers and should be embraced. However, our sensitivity can also be a great source of strife in our homes AND in the Lord’s church.
How often have you heard the phrase, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”? This is SO true. It really pricks me because nine times out of ten if I notice that my kids or my husband have a little bit of an attitude problem I can trace it back to myself. What a responsibility! But sisters, the responsibility extends SO much further than our homes. As women, I think we seriously underestimate the influence we have on other people. As women, we can set the tone for an ENTIRE congregation.
When the women are not getting along, a congregation will be shaken to it’s very core. We see a tremendous example of this in the book of Philippians. Many people refer to this as the “joy” book, and they are certainly right that Paul emphasizes joy more in this book than any other, however, I would suggest that there is so much more to it than that. I believe Paul is emphasizing JOY because there was a tremendous need for UNITY among the sisters there, specifically Euodia and Syntyche.
You see, these were tremendous women, women who had labored side by side with Paul (4:3) but they were not getting along, and it was destroying the church! In the Greek language they used a lot of what we refer to today as “petition verbs” For Paul, a petition verb was a way of putting a big ‘ol (!!!!!) at what he was saying. In 4:2 he uses not one but TWO petition verbs in one sentence, which is not seen anywhere else. It reads, “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.” The relationship between these two women was so important to Paul, and made such an impact on the church, that Paul was literally begging them to get along!
As women, our sensitivity is a tremendous asset but ONLY if controlled. Our sensitivity makes it vey easy to take something someone else says or does very personally, and very negatively. God holds us responsible for how we interact with each other, & as women this requires extra care! When someone says or does something that hurts, we have two options. 1) We can choose to assume that they were not trying to be hurtful and let it go. 2) We can talk to them about what happened in a loving way to see if there is a problem with the relationship that needs to be reconciled. There is NO option 3! There is no getting hurt and upset and letting it damage your relationship with your sister. There is CERTAINLY no going around telling everyone else what happened.
When someone says or does something that hurts, we have two options. 1) We can choose to assume that they were not trying to be hurtful and let it go. 2) We can talk to them about what happened in a loving way to see if there is a problem with the relationship that needs to be reconciled. There is NO option 3!
I for one am horrible at confrontation. I get nauseous, my stomach turns into lead, and I want to burst into tears at just the THOUGHT, let alone actually doing it. But Scripture COMMANDS us to confront our sisters when there is a problem. Matthew 18:15 tells us to go to a brother who has sinned against us. Matthew 5:21ff takes it even further and tells us that even if we are offering a sacrifice to God and realize that a brother has a problem with us, we are to LEAVE the sacrifice, reconcile with our brother, and then return. This applies to women just as much as to men. How often do you partake of the Lord’s supper with hurt feelings or anger towards a sister? How often do you partake while fearing that someone is upset with you? I Corinthians 11:17ff makes it clear that we are to be UNIFIED while partaking.
Sisters, we have SUCH amazing power for the Lord’s church. The Gospel is rooted in love, love for the Lord, love for the lost, and love for our brethren. Just as we love our children when we hug them, and we love our children when we correct them, we should love our brethren the same way. If a sister is living in a way contrary to God’s Word we have a responsibility to confront her about that in love (Galatians 6:1). If a sister hurts us we have a responsibility to confront her in love. If we fear that we have hurt a sister we have a responsibility to confront her in love.
As a woman, I fear confrontation as much as anyone. It is easiest for me to clam up and sulk and pout and let my emotions eat at me from the inside. But this is not Biblical. God wants us to have open, honest, loving relationships with each other. We recognize that our marriages will not survive without open, honest communication, and, sisters, the Lord’s church is the same way. Let us strengthen our bonds of love with each other, so that we can be a mighty force in our communities for the Lord.