My friend Lee is a rejoicer. I used to go to his office when I was needing to be cheered up. He would look up, smile, say my name and welcome me.
So when Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always,” those of us who know Lee think that Lee has this one covered. And we think that we don’t have it covered.
“Rejoice” can get translated “be like Lee.”
But when I talked about the conflict between Euodia and Syntyche yesterday, and I mentioned that Paul was going to help us figure out how they might resolve the tension and get back to working together for God, I don’t think the first step is to be like Lee.
That may have been the problem in the first place. Because Lee rejoices in the Lord, but he’s also a happy person. And there are people who rejoice in the Lord and are less outgoingly happy people. And it’s possible for tension to arise in a clash of personalities.
Like happened when Lee and Michael were on a mission trip together. Lee wakes up smiling. Michael wakes up. I never knew this to be true, but I can imagine Michael quoting Proverbs to Lee one morning: He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning, It will be reckoned a curse to him.
A way to deal with interpersonal tension is to shift the focus from pleasing or proving each other and turn to finding meaning and identity and satisfaction in the Lord.
Both Lee and Michael did this. In their different ways. And without trying to be each other.
It’s a first step.