Philippians 4:1-3 - Unity Comes Through Handling Problems

Dr. Steve Viars December 2, 1995 Philippians 4:1-3

1) All through this book, the subject of unity and disunity has been
- I'm going to have you do some more study on this in just a
- but please remember, a controlling theme has been -- God
wants his people to have unity in their relationships in the
church, and in their relationships with others.

2) Please remember also that a book (letter) like this one was read
publicly in the church service.
- (cf. Col. 4:16)

- keep that in mind as we read.

- (READ 4:1-3)
Eudia - fragrance /// Syntyche - fortunate

- you can see why we came up with the title that we did:
"Unity Comes From Solving Problems"

- we're going to talk this morning about the importance of seeking to
solve problems
- so that genuine unity can truly be achieved.

- here's what I'd like us to do at this point:
- I'm going to break you into small groups -- and have you "scour"
the first 3 chapters of this book

- Please find and list as many verses as you can that are connected
to the theme of unity in some way, either by being:
a) a direct command to be unified
b) a principle that, if followed, will greatly enhance unity [or
if ignored, will greatly hinder unity].

- Those verses will reinforce your belief in "The Importance of Unity"
- Then please look over at Psalm 133 and make as many observations as you
can about "The Beauty of Unity."

- OK, so far we've clearly seen the "importance" of unity, and the
"beauty" of let's study what these verses teach us about
how unity can be achieved.

- in this case, Paul knew that unity could not be achieved in this church
until a "confrontation" took place.
- here's what we mean by confrontation:

"Loving coming alongside another believer, speaking to them about an
area of sin in their life, with the goal of seeing them restored"

- People who really are concerned about preserving unity have the
courage, and the love, and the godliness to sit down and iron out
- cf. Romans 15:14, Gal. 6:1

- Paul, in these verses, gives us a classic confrontation of "what a
confrontation looks like."
- we're going to divide this into three characteristics of godly
confrontations, or godly problem solving.

I. Prepare the Person(s) Adequately

- Verse 1 shows that Paul wasn't like a "bull in a china shop" when
it came to situations like this.
- the last thing this "soup" needed was more sin added to the pot.
- Paul didn't do that by adding more sin with insensitive words
or deeds.

- INPUT - How did Paul prepare these two ladies in verse 1 so they
were in the best possible position to "hear" the
confrontation of verse 2?

A. Speak of your relationship with them.

- Paul addressed them (the whole church) as his brethren -- his
brothers and sisters in Christ.
- these weren't people he was mad at
- they weren't people he was getting ready to cut off...
- they were part of the family

- even though these ladies were involved in some things that were
bad and needed to change -- Paul didn't want the way he spoke
to them to fail to take into account the fact they were still
family members.

B. Your love for them

- "dearly beloved and longed for"

- you may want to thin about the last person you confronted.
- did you first express your love for that person?
- was what you said and did "couched in the context" of your
love for them?

- INPUT (if time) - what can you do (besides "saying it) at a
time like this that will reinforce the fact that you love
them? (even though you're dealing with problems?)

C. Their importance in your life

- "my joy and crown"

- John said in III John 4 - "I have no greater joy than that my
children walk in the truth."

- yes, problems had to be addressed, but he wanted these dear
folks to know (even the "warring ladies) that they had been a
great source of joy to him.
- they were an important part of his life

- the word "crown" is the original word "stephanos" -- victor's
- "the valuable prize won at an Olympic event"

- you and I would probably do well to look over that list and ask -- Is
that the way I typically confront problems?
- Do I adequately prepare the person I'm speaking to?

- that may say a lot about why these situations don't go very well
when you confront your spouse, or your kids, or a church member,

(if time, could develop the idea that some folks aren't even in this
"ballgame" -- because they don't confront problems, period.
- if that’s the case, that kind of behavior is wrong for an entirely
different set of reasons
- but for anyone who might listen to what we're talking about
today and say -- "I'm more spiritual than that -- I don't
confront problems at all..."
- we need to say:
1) that’s very unloving
2) whatever "unity" that achieves is shallow at best
- not negating I Peter 4:8 - Love covers a multitude...)

II. Keep the Confrontation Pointed and Simple

- it's interesting to carefully look at what Paul said to these
ladies (and what he didn't say)
- some principles that "flow out of that" are:

A. Be specific

- Jay Adams says of these verses:

"How important it is to get down to brass tacks...There are
real people involved. They must be singled out and dealt
with specifically. Abstractions and generalizations will
solve few problems."

- Paul's words here are very specific.
- Some believers really wrestle with this:
- they can talk all around the world for hours and hours and
never get down to defining the issues specifically.
- sometimes one of the best things you can do in a situation
like this is take time to write the issues out ahead of time

(if time) - INPUT - what specific questions might a person try to answer
"ahead of time" to make the confrontation as pointed,
simple, and specific as possible?

B. Be positive (when possible and appropriate)

- its important to note what Paul says at the end of verse one.
"so stand fast in the Lord"

- there's a lot of ways that could have been said.
INPUT - possible negative ways?

- point is -- Paul chose his words very carefully, and made his
point positively (because in that setting it was both
possible and appropriate)

C. Avoid extraneous speech

- there's a lot of things of things about this problem that Paul
didn't address
- like:
1) who started it
2) who was "most" at fault
3) extraneous history
(history isn't always extraneous - Prov. 28:13 - but
in this case it would have been)

- Prov. 10:19 - In the multitude of words, there lacks not

- (if time - could develop the issue of psychologized society
-- given to "over-analysis")

- point - Paul "got in and got out"
- he didn't say more than needed to be said

D. Be fair

- its also important to not that Paul said:

- I beseech Euodia and I beseech Syntyche

- the repeated verb shows how careful Paul was to be fair
- both ladies needed to hear this

- (if time) -- INPUT - ways a person could be unfair during a
time of confrontation?

E. Be Christ-Centered

- twice in verses 1-2 -- "in the Lord"

- INPUT - Why is this part of the discussion so very important?

- let's stop there and ask some questions?

1) Are you committed to preserving unity with the people the Lord has
placed around you (to the degree that you should -- different
when we're talking about work as opposed to marriage, family,

2) Are you committed to getting problems solved? (Could there be any
Eudia's and Syntyche's among us?)

3) Do your confrontations meet the characteristics we're seeing in
the way Paul dealt with this situation?

III. Keep the Confrontation Balanced

- enlisted the help of Szygus - (possibly a pun - cf. Philemon 11)

A. These are fellow laborers

B. There are believers

Conclusion - John 8 - two wrong extremes

- both produce lack of unity

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

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