Pause for thought

Catfight in the Women’s Fellowship!

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I will readily admit that my title is pure clickbait!

But, now that I have your attention, let me point out that in the church at Philippi a couple of the ladies in the fellowship did have a falling-out significant enough and serious enough to come to the attention of the Apostle Paul!

Paul gives the church a recipe for how to deal with the situation. He asks the two feuding women to “…be of the same mind in the Lord”. [Philippians 4:2 NIV] In doing so, Paul also gives us one of the most astounding examples of what humility means for a Christian.

Earlier in his letter to the Philippian church Paul pleads with the members of the congregation to “…make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…” [Philippians 2:2-5 NIV]

Paul then goes on to explain to his readers what this mindset of Jesus was and is.

He points out that Jesus is God Himself.

By right he should be an object of worship, but Jesus considered that something that might be an impediment in his mission to redeem fallen mankind. So he made a choice and instead chose to become a servant!

In Philippians 2:6-11 Paul lays out the implications and consequences of this choice.

Instead of appearing as some mystical and fantastical being, awesome, inspiring jaw-dropping admiration, Jesus took on the appearance and limitations of being fully human. The King James translation says he took on the “…form of a man…”. This word translated as “form”, comes from the same root as the Greek word which gives us our word “performance” or saying that someone was in good “form”. This means that Jesus made a conscious decision that he would show us what mankind looked like whilst achieving its fullest potential.

Paul also says Jesus made himself “nothing”, reversing roles by becoming the servant rather than the one being served.

Paul says he “humbled” himself. The greek word here is one which literally means “to empty out”. This means that Jesus forsook all his rights and privileges so that he could be wholly available to carry out the will of the Father, even if that meant dying on a cross!

Against this standard, the petty disagreements and irritants inside the church surely pale into insignificance!

Paul says we should look at our purpose in life with the same mindset and humility as Jesus, because if it was good enough for the very Son of God it should be good enough for us.

I should point out that none of this implies that we should become doormats or limp noodles in dealing with people - a quick look at his courage, tenacity and zealousness for the Father’s will quickly convinces us that Jesus was no shrinking violet in that regard. Rather, by seeking to emulate Jesus’ mindset we will empty out our wills and desires and seek the kingdom of God first. Doing so comes with great rewards in this life according to scripture [Matt 6:33]

If everyone in the church can have this kind of purpose and mindset then the irritants which might lead to squabbling, dissension, and bad feelings for others will melt away in a higher purpose. Those who love to criticize, and cry “hypocrisy” at the church will have little to write about except for noting our good works and giving God the glory!

I have long since admired the elegance and style with which my grandmother’s generation closed their letters, and so:

Praying for God’s richest blessings on you and yours, Allow me to remain, dear readers, Your Humble Servant,

Jim Black

Sunday November 14th, 2021
Sunday October 31st, 2021