I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.
1. Two women connected with the Church were at enmity. They were estimable women and active in Christian work; but they differed and scandal ensued.
2. The cause of the quarrel may have been —
(1) Some important point of doctrine;
(2) A trifling difference of opinion; or
(3) Some slight act or careless word.The feminine nature was sensitive, offence was taken, disadvantageous things were whispered of each other; then it became a topic of common conversation, and two parties may have been formed.
3. The apostle in his efforts to check the evil wisely abstained from entering into detail. He knew there were two sides to the question. Hence he entreats them to give up their dissention of their own accord from the love of Christ. Euodias "fragrance" and Syntyche "a talker," may have settled their differences; but they stand as permanent examples of the pettiness of mere bickering, and of the danger that arises from uncontrolled use of the tongue. A man or woman can make the whole of life burdensome to some one else by a malicious tongue,
I. TAKE A FEW INSTANCES OR THE HARM DONE.
1. Socially. A woman may drop a word concerning a neighbour, hinting that she is extravagant or self-indulgent, and she is noticed, shunned, chilled, embittered. Or a workman can drop a hint concerning another whom he dislikes, suggesting that he "does not know his own," or that he is liable to get into much company, or that his work is flimsy, and the man may lose his place and his family their bread.
2. Domestically. Some little article is misplaced on a Sabbath morning, a sharp word is uttered and the family made miserable for the rest of the day.
3. Ecclesiastically. A trifling act or word has often split up a Church, and a slanderous hint whispered about a minister's doctrine or practice which ruins him for life.
4. Religiously. Perhaps the venom of slander is more intense here than anywhere. Under the appearance of anxiety for truth and justice what injury is often done!
5. Internationally. A little thing can kindle a blaze among the nations. A few words by a wanton statesman may start it. Europe is full of explosive materials and the peaceable ever live in danger of having to suffer.
II. THERE IS A PERIOD WHEN A QUARREL CAN BE CHECKED, BUT WHEN ONCE STARTED WHO CAN SAY WHERE IT WILL END? In its earliest stages a fire can be quenched with a pint of water, but when it begins to spread who can set bounds to it? The sin of slander is like a maddened horse or a dry forest on fire. A thoughtless scandalous word goes from one to another gathering as it goes. A snowball rolled in snow gathers garbage and whatever may come in its way, becoming solid by rolling and lasting long after all other snow has melted. So when a gossiping tongue drops a hint a whole area of peace may be destroyed for long.
III. THOSE WHO ARE SO KEEN TO DETECT EVIL IN OTHERS ARE OFTEN THEMSELVES THE MOST GUILTY. The most worthy are often selected as the objects of bitter attacks, just as we find the best fruit is that at which the birds have been pecking.
IV. MOST SLANDER WOULD BE STARVED IF NO ONE FED IT, but so many are glad to hear of evil. There are those who seem to have no other business but to pick up and spread evil reports. They rejoice in a piece of scandal as a raven does in carrion.
V. THE CARELESS TONGUE OFTEN PUNISHES THE POSSESSOR. The tongue may run away with us like a mad horse, and who shall drag us from the dangerous precipice (Proverbs 13:13; Proverbs 21:23).
Parallel VersesKJV: I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.