“Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. 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.” — Philippians 4:1–3
Maybe there is a new baby in your family this Christmas, but I doubt their parents named her Euodia or Syntyche. Paul describes them as good women who worked by his side, but they were not getting along at the time he wrote this letter. Chances are, somewhere in your Christmas celebration, you have a Euodia or Syntyche in the house who have trouble getting along with the rest of the crew. Maybe it’s even you and your little sister, or that teenager who’s driving you crazy!
The biblical Christmas story doesn’t have that message, but maybe it could. I wonder if there was a shepherd or two who argued that the flocks shouldn’t be left alone to go find a baby. I wonder if the cries of a newborn baby kept someone awake that night in Bethlehem. I wonder if the people crammed into that inn were getting along. My guess is that the magi even had a disagreement or two while they were following the star.
We want our Christmas gatherings to be peaceful and fun times together. But often there is a Euodia or Syntyche around somewhere who creates some problems. Paul described them as “fellow workers,” and their names were written in “the book of life” (meaning they were Christians), but they needed some help getting along. Paul told the brothers to “stand firm” in the faith and help those women do the same. Maybe today he would say something like, “Keep the main thing the main thing, and let’s get to celebrating Jesus.”
Paul had already provided the solution for unity in his letter. He wrote, “Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front: don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourself long enough to lend a helping hand” (Philippians 2:3 MSG).
What a great message for all of us this Christmas. Whom do you need to pray for this Christmas? Pray to keep unity with this person and work toward a deep friendship. It’s OK to name the name and pray specifically. God already knows and loves the Euodias and Syntyches, and we can too.
The perfect gift you might give your family this year is the gift of unity. Where do you need to stop insisting on getting your way? Where should you lend a hand to someone else? Where can you make things easier for someone else by putting others first? Christmas will likely be a more enjoyable, more blessed holiday because you bring that Christian spirit to the family celebration.
Lord, may the joy of this Christmas holiday be found in our words, our attitudes, and our love.