Resentful? Find Common Ground

In pursuit of baffling peace in our relationships, we are looking at 4 practical principles present here in Philippians 4:2-5. We’ve already unpacked #1 "Seek Mediation" here, now let’s jump into the second one...

2. See Your Common Ground: 

I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Philippians 4:2-4

We are reminded here that Euodia and Syntyche, while they seem to be emotionally divided, they are in fact spiritually connected together. They are “fellow workers”. They have both labored hard for the same God and the same gospel. Their names are written in the same book of the same Author of it. These women were united to Christ. And whether they liked it or not, in Him, they were also united to one another. They are not the only ones who needed these reminders...

Words like “fellow” aren’t exactly our go-to adjectives to describe someone we resent, but the Scriptures urge us to think of our brothers and sisters in this way. We are “fellow” - equally together and written beside one another in God’s great book of life. And get this...we are not only to regard our brothers and sisters as “fellow” but also as "more important" than ourselves (Philippians 2:3, found just a couple chapters before our passage of study).

C.S. Lewis put it this way in “The Weight of Glory”:

It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken...
— C.S. Lewis, Weight of Glory
...It is in light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit... Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.
— C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory


Consider how this perspective would transform your words, actions, tone, and posture with someone you are less inclined towards right now. Imagine an interaction with a person whom you do know, someone you naturally see as more important that yourself. How do you speak to them? How do you listen to them? How do you treat them? How do you talk about them to others?  ...See how we defer to people that we regard (see, admire, perceive) as more important that ourselves? We are slow to speak and quick to listen. We are much more likely to give the benefit of the doubt. We go above and beyond common courtesies. We honor them in the presence of others. We boast of them behind their back.

Ohhh, God we need You - transform our hearts to regard all of our brothers and sisters as more important than ourselves. Help us to see how our common ground at the cross unites us and esteems our worth in You.

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Even if the person you are in conflict with is not a believer - this principle still has some valuable traction. Likely, there is still some common ground you share with one another. Maybe you share common DNA, a common desire, or a common goal? ...I'm not sure, but no matter what - I am sure you most definitely share a common sin -- and this, if you’re like me, will only irritate you further until you see that your common sin leads also to a shared need...a need that was met by God’s extraordinary grace. When we stand at the cross, our societal standing in the world is no matter. At the cross, we all deserve the same death...a death that Jesus mercifully took in our place. A trade that God in Christ generously extends to all who believe, no matter what they have done. Do our hearts so extend His grace toward others?

No matter the case, with whomever you share relational tension - it’s true that you also share a common Creator. We are made in His image and His image upon us, sustained even the greatest fall. So may we seek God’s creative perspective on the people He’s put in our lives. May we see His plan and desire for all. And may we share His heart of compassion for all...even and especially those who have hurt us most.

We simply cannot do this apart from God’s power - we need Him.
So let’s pray:

Father in Heaven, You created us in Your image. We fell from its truest reflection in our being. Great was the fall. The brokenness we see in the mirror and in each other is blinding. We cannot see. Thank You for sending Jesus, Your perfect reflection, to pick up the broken pieces and recreate us. Continue Your work in us. Renew our eyes to see as You see. Enlighten the eyes of our hearts to perceive co-worker, boss, spouse, brother, sister, mother, father, in-laws, children, pastor, friend and enemy - with compassion. Help us to see the common ground we share as people created in Your image. Help us to see our brothers and sisters as “fellow” - united together by Your blood and written in the same book of Life. You overcame all that divided us on that cross. Let us stand in the victory You achieved. Grant us humility to embrace our true live as one, as we were made one in You.  We humble ourselves before You now, seeking Your healing sight to see as You see.
In Jesus Name, let it be.