At best, he’s a bit player. A walk-on in a stage production. A cameo appearance in a movie. Doesn’t have a speaking part. Name’s not even listed in the credits. You barely notice him. He’s a no name. But this morning I’m noodling on Paul’s true companion.
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
(Philippians 4:2-3 ESV)
So often I just blow by these first verses of Philippians 4. Anxious to get on to rejoicing in the Lord always, and requesting of the Lord for everything, and resting in the Lord with a peace that passes understanding, I fail to pause and consider how important is reconciling in the Lord.
Paul writes to a church but singles out two ladies. Not to shame them, but because of his high esteem for them. They had labored with the beloved apostle side by side, and yet, somehow, they were now head to head. Whatever the misunderstanding, whatever the offense, whatever the disagreement, Paul called in the troops to help mend this broken relationship.
That great effort should be brought to bear to bring blood-bought believers back into friendship and fellowship seems so foreign to so many today. All too often in the church, when relationships get rocky, we simply concede that someone’s eventually going to end up leaving. The body’s going to lose a member. The fellowship’s going to be fractured. But if we’d take our cue from Paul, we’d plead with the combatants to work it out, and, as needed, we’d enlist others to draw alongside and help. We’d call on the true companion.
This guy, or gal, is the real-meal deal. A genuine, sincere, “yokefellow.” A comrade, a colleague, a consort. Someone Paul could trust. Like the ladies, a faithful partner.
And while he’s not named, he’s enlisted. And, as a true companion, you know that he engaged. He willingly mediated. He diligently brokered reconciliation. He did what needed to be done, not for any accolade but for the good of the family of God. He became involved not because it would benefit him necessarily but because it would strengthen the body. He was open to getting into the mess a bit if he could be used of the Spirit to make beautiful Christ’s bride.
That Paul would pause in his letter to address this minor scuffle among two sisters is noteworthy. It’s a reminder of the importance placed by the Head of the church on maintaining the unity of the Spirit among a gathering of believers (Eph. 4:3). But that he would also enlist a no name to do something with almost no recognition for the benefit of the church, should perhaps also awaken us to the possibility that the Lord might call us to be a true companion.
Not just a friend to our friends, but a friend to our family. Willing to be prompted by the Spirit to draw alongside those who have turned away from each other. Not to meddle but to mend. Not to take sides but to restore the bond of peace. Not that we’d be noticed, but that others would be blessed.
Because of grace. For His glory.