NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from the YOU curriculum.
Bible Passage: Philippians 4:1-9
Discussion Questions: How can you encourage friends not to give up on one another? If you were to pick one virtue to develop more fully, which would it be? Which virtue do you think is your strongest? Why?
Food for Thought:
“You don’t throw the baby out with the dirty bathwater” is a common phrase used to describe a relationship “gone bad” that’s worth saving. Human inclination is to dump, drop, or dismiss friends when they mess up or mess us up! Today’s lesson focuses on a messy, or broken, friendship of two women within the church of Philippi. Paul’s loving comments to the believers at that church apply to believers today –– a true friendship is worth saving –– and provides guidance for taking positive steps toward doing just that.
Paul cared deeply about the Philippian church, which was formed by people like Euodia and Syntyche. He began his letter to the church by describing the members as his joy and crown (v. 1). Paul then addressed specifically the quarrel between Christian sisters Euodia and Syntyche. Although he believed their conflict would negatively affect the entire church, Paul did not reveal the nature of their problem or take sides. He did appeal tactfully for unity by asking them to agree with each other in the Lord. He encouraged them to look back, to reflect on their relationship with God and with one another. He reminded them to remember the good.
Take into account Paul’s personal circumstances when he wrote the Book of Philippians. He wrote the letter from prison. In the midst of his own trouble (yes, somebody messed him up) he continued to encourage and instruct believers not to give up on one another. We should do the same. Rather than holding hurts, we must ask God in prayer, to help us release them. It’s not easy to do. In fact, it often takes intervention of others (i.e. friends, church leaders and trained professionals) to help us release the hurt. But this is an important step in restoring broken or damaged relationships. The result is the peace of God that brings power to endure. The peace surpasses knowledge, calming a troubling situation when explanations fail. Additionally, peace guards by keeping anxieties from hearts (choices) and minds (attitudes).
Paul asked a specific member of the congregation to help these women. No one knows who the loyal person was. Some even think Paul referred to the entire church. He used strong, urgent language to insist that the church get the problem solved and get back to the Christian position of standing firm “in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith that comes from the Gospel” (1:27).
Paul’s word “finally” (v. 8) is significant because it means “lastly.” It signals his summary of everything contained in the passage. Whatever is another word repeated by Paul in this passage. The word whatever has a different meaning in today’s culture. It’s a dismissive term, a stand-alone word to indicate a lack of concern or commitment. Paul intended just the opposite. He used whatever to precede seven important virtues or human qualities that mesh to create an environment of peace: true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable and excellence. In this verse Paul gets to his point: “Dwell on these things.” That, joined with prayer, will relieve all anxieties and lead one to praise God and live life the way He desires.
Sometimes it’s comforting to know that we are not the only ones who struggle with relationship problems. Disagreements between friends date back to Bible times. Based on Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we know how to respond when we encounter similar situations. After all, a true friendship is worth saving.
Intentionally focused on urban and multicultural believers, YOU’s short, topical studies are culturally relevant with clear life-application components that challenge learners to live missionally as they connect, grow, serve, and ultimately be engaged in impacting the world for Christ. This flexible, non-dated 3-in-1 quarterly resource offers weekly Bible study for leaders and learners, devotionals, and teaching plans, as well as articles on hot topics and missions. For additional online teaching resources, visit LifeWay.com/YOU.
Other ongoing Bible study options for all ages offered by LifeWay can be found at LifeWay.com/SundaySchool.