We call them differences, arguments, differing opinions, fusses…all meaning the same thing. There are times in the Lord’s church when women (and men) just can’t seem to get along. It might be a committee working toward some event and the lady in charge rules with an iron hand. It may be generational and the older women think they know more about rearing children (or any number of other things) than this younger generation does. It might have to do with modest dress, or songs, or activities, or tattoos, or teaching methods or carpet colors, or food to serve for refreshments, or…
Suffice it to say that there are times when sister goes against sister in the church.
The apostle Paul begins the fourth chapter of Philippians in an unusual way for a letter written mostly about joy and love. In verse 2 he calls out the names of two Christian women who apparently aren’t getting along for some reason. That reason isn’t given, but we do know that they were not “agreeing in the Lord.” He further calls for the Christians around them to help them. How? He doesn’t really say, unless reminding them that at one time they “labored side by side with me in the gospel…” would help get them back on track.
I would like to share a few suggestions to hopefully help lessen the damage done when “fusses” between Christian sisters come about.
- Tame your tongue. As is often the case, when there are differences of opinion concerning any matter, our tongues go to work. We feel the need to talk to others about “our opinion” and win as many as we can to “our side” of the dispute. We need to learn to work constantly on being in control of our tongues. James describes it as “…a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8)
- Taste your talk. If we placed a taste on the words that come from our mouths, what would they taste like? Would they be bitter, salty, sweet, sour? Spend some time thinking about what comes out of your mouth. I know when I’m angry, not much sweetness is likely to come out of my mouth! (Col. 4:6)
- Tame your tone. How you say what you say matters! I could say “I disagree with that” in several different ways just by changing the tone of my voice and the look on my face. Knowing this and remembering it when differences come up will go a long way toward stopping fusses.
- It is ok to have differences of opinion concerning non-doctrinal matters. The problem develops when I think that my opinion is the only one that counts; that my way of doing things is the only right way! It hurts me when other sisters don’t agree with me! Do you see the selfishness in these statements? When I lose “self” in order to maintain harmony in the body of Christ I will be helping to keep peace? (Phil. 2:3)
- Unity is important. Paul gives us a formula to maintain unity in the body of Christ. “…Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4: 1-3) I certainly can’t improve on that formula.
- Don’t give Satan a victory. When sister goes against sister, disrupting the peace in the congregation, Satan wins a victory. He moves us off-course. We lose our true focus. We forget what Jesus did for us. We begin focusing upon “our rights,” and forget that we have no rights because we have “been crucified with Christ.” (Gal. 2:20)
To paraphrase David the psalmist:
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when [sisters] dwell in unity!” Psalm 133:1