Scripture Reading: Acts 15:36-41
“Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought it best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other.” (Acts 15:37-39a)
Let me give a little background to the division between Paul and Barnabas. Paul desired to return to the cities in which the gospel had been proclaimed on the first missionary journey. He wanted to see how the believers were doing. Barnabas desired John Mark to go with them, but Paul refused to let him go. Paul evidently had not gotten over the fact that John Mark deserted them on the first missionary journey (13:13). The disagreement resulted in a division between Paul and Barnabas.
The separation of Paul and Barnabas is really disappointing. Here were two great Christian leaders divided and contentious with one another. Calvin wrote that the contention between Paul and Barnabas “is one that ought justifiably to strike terror in all the godly.” The partnership between Paul and Barnabas had been so effective and their work had been blessed by God. They had been through so many hard times and difficulties together and stuck it out. Now they were split over what seems to be a trivial matter. We can see the stubbornness of Barnabas and the unforgiving spirit of Paul.
Satan loves to create division and strife between the people of God. Many times division come over trivial matters. We are all sinful, even the greatest Christian leaders! We struggle with pride, stubbornness, and unforgiving spirits. We attribute wrong motives to one another and magnify problems when we involve others in unsettled conflict. We refuse to let go of offenses, even when the offending party seeks forgiveness.
When conflict arises, we must deal with it in a godly manner. We must be determined to seek reconciliation. We need to act out of our own brokenness and extend grace to one another. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live in peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18)
Lord Jesus, give me wisdom as I deal with conflict. Give me Your mind and heart and enable me to seek peace and reconciliation. Let me deal with others as You have dealt with me, graciously and lovingly. Forgive me when I am stubborn and unforgiving.
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