“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.”
“who labored with me in the gospel”
The word “labored” is an athletic term used for team spirit. The idea is to cooperate on a team to achieve a common goal. The word also connotes strenuous effort. When Paul was in Philippi, Euodia and Syntyche worked hard together as a team to spread the gospel in Macedonia. Now they were no longer a team. They were common enemies.
This conflict had not always existed. These women had a powerful ministry, with the apostle Paul nonetheless! The Lord greatly used them in evangelism. Now their ministry had fallen apart. It does not take long to lose a ministry. We often fail at the pinnacle of our spiritual success. Satan counter-attacked their ministry. They suffered defeat by him and did not know it. Today’s successful ministry is no guarantee of success tomorrow.
The ministry of women was prominent in the first century. Today we do not know their ministry role, but it stood out to the apostle Paul. Sadly, these people in conflict were not immature Christians. They were veteran coworkers with the apostle. They had a prominent place in the ministry at Philippi. Spiritual maturity does not preclude display of the flesh.
“with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers”
This phrase may mean that Clement and other fellow workers were brought in to help with this tension between Euodia and Syntyche. Evidently, some people did not allow themselves to be drawn into the division of the Philippian church. They were colleagues of Paul in ministry.
“whose names are in the Book of Life”
Those names written in the book of life are those who have been born again. When a person dies without receiving Jesus as their Savior, his name is blotted out of the Book of Life. There are about nine references to the “Book of Life” in the Bible. All of these references refer to a registry of those who are born again.
Our names are in the Book of Life together. Why should we squabble and fuss? We are all in the same family. We all belong to the same Lord.
A successful and victorious past is no guarantee of a victorious present or future.
We cannot ride on past victories. Every day is a new day with the Lord. We may have been successful in the past, but that does not mean that we will be successful in the present. Satan is a great counter-attacker.
We cannot afford to break fellowship with others. It costs too much. It hurts too much. We contaminate our wife or husband with our negative attitude. Our children get infected. It is too expensive for our family.
As long as we have any ill will in our hearts toward anyone, we are out of fellowship with the Lord. God does not answer prayer the same way as when we are in fellowship. We hold unconfessed sin in our lives. We project ourselves out of the circumference of the will of God. We try to carry on spiritual business as usual and cannot do it. That is why we have lost interest; that is why we are so critical of God’s work. We are sour. Although we are hurt by criticism, that is no reason to break fellowship.
God greatly used Euodia and Syntyche. Now they were on the shelf. God will not use us as long as we carry a chip on our shoulders. We need to laugh at ourselves once in a while. If we do not laugh at ourselves, we will never make a great servant of Jesus Christ. We should not take ourselves too seriously. We cannot believe everything people say about us. Life is too short, eternity is too long, and there is too much at stake to get caught up in vicious retaliatory cycles.
Are you playing the game of spiritual king of the mountain? Are you trying to pull other believers down to gain ascendancy?