Joy through Resolving Conflict


Prayer: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

As we look to you today for direction, oh Lord, our father and our maker, we ask you to be with us as we attempt to love and serve others in a way that will take care of their needs and at the same time draw them closer to you.  Give us the opportunity to be a witness today with our words, our works, and our walk that we might be a reflection of your love and grace to all with whom we come in contact.  Amen 

Main Scripture:

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!  Plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.  Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.  Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:1-7).

Associated Scriptures:

[There are] many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless, the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand (Proverbs 19:21, NKJV).

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11, NKJV).

So, do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

Correlative Quotes:

"Euodia" means a "prosperous journey." "Syntyche" means a "pleasant acquaintance." Since Paul pleaded with these two to agree with each other in the Lord, it seems that they were causing dissension in the assembly. This helps explain Paul's earlier plea for unity.[1] – Bible Knowledge Commentary

Be continually happy; but this happiness you can find only in the Lord. Genuine happiness is spiritual; as it can only come from God, so it infallibly tends to him.[2] – Adam Clark

"Moderation" in v. 5 means "sweet reasonableness.".[3] Warren Wiersbe



Even healthy churches with strong, capable leadership have disagreements occasionally.  These disagreements usually involve members of the church, but periodically involve their leaders.  When there is disagreement in a church, the spread of the gospel message and spiritual growth suffer.  One sour apple can ruin the whole barrel.

In the case of the Church at Philippi, we have two women who were an integral part of the fellowship and probably held leadership positions. 

Verse 2 tells us that Euodia and Syntyche were not of the same mind in the Lord.  They were disputing over some issue that must have been critical to the church since Paul included it in this letter.  They had been coworkers with both Paul and Clement, they were born again believers, and they had worked with both men in delivering the gospel message (vs. 2-3). 

Resolving conflict, spiritual or otherwise, is never easy but it is imperative.  The work of Jesus must move forward.  Any hindrance can be devastating to the work both in the short and long term.  Here are some ideas that might help resolve spiritual conflict. 

  1. Address Issues early: (vss. 1-3). Healthy Churches:
  • Recognize and address issues early and quickly.
  • Choose the best qualified members to address the problem.
  • Stay with problems until completely resolved.
  • Understand that problems never resolve themselves they only get worse.
  • Know that Satan does not want to see compromise and restoration.
  1. Confront spiritual conflict with a positive attitude: (vs. 4). The preparation includes the five B’s:
  • Be united.
  • Be Joyful.
  • Be in Prayer.
  • Be of the same mind.
  • Be in the Lord.
  1. Resolve issues proactively: (vss. 4-6)
  • When handling spiritual conflict, use scripture.
  • Spiritually maturing Christians turn to the Holy Spirit for their strength, use understanding.
  • God’s method for handling conflict is tried, true, and eternal, use wisdom.

Here are the steps to successful conflict resolution:

  • Rejoice always: Enter into every conflict or potential conflict with love and joy in your hearts and let your attitude and your face in on it.
  • Practice Gentleness: Handle others with gentleness and love.  Don’t prejudge anyone involved in the conflict. 
  • Dominate the Listening: Listen to their concerns with an open mind and without making any judgment or giving any reaction until you have heard all of the information.
  • Be anxious for nothing: Weep with those who weep, console those who are grieving, laugh with those who laugh, be sympathetic and quieting to those who are angry. Follow the teaching of Romans 12:10-19
  • Take time to Pray: With prayer, pleading, and thanksgiving take it to God: Let the Holy Spirit through prayer and discernment guide people involved through the decision process with love and concern for all parties. 
  1. Solutions to issues in faith: (vs. 7)
  • Peace with God comes through salvation.
  • The peace of God comes through living your faith.
  • The knowledge of God comes through scripture.
  • The wisdom of God comes through prayer and fasting.

Summary Statement:

When we have made decisions that have been bathed in prayer, fasting, scripture, and in counsel with the Holy Spirit, no matter what the reaction to the decision, we can have comfort in the fact that we have followed God’s plan for decision making.  Following God’s plan gives us the assurance that we have used the right method and resources for resolution.  Used God’s plan for reconciliation always brings joy.

Lesson within the Lesson:

When is the best time to handle spiritual conflict and why?

What happens when we wait to see if the conflict will resolve itself?

How is resolving conflict related to spiritual growth?

What is the attitude that the arbitrator is seeking to establish?

[1] Bible Knowledge Commentary/Old Testament Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries; Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries. All rights reserved.

[2] Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.

[3] Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament. Copyright © 1992 by Chariot Victor Publishing, an imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved.