WHEN GOOD AND GODLY PEOPLE REALLY DISAGREE
And there arose such a sharp disagreement that they [Paul and Barnabas] separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and departed, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. Acts 15:39-40
Paul and Barnabas were great friends and ministry partners. Barnabas had befriended Paul when Paul was just a young Christian. They were specifically paired by the Holy Spirit for the first missionary journey, a difficult but rewarding journey of disciple-making and church-planting.
When the time came for a second missionary journey, a problem arose. Barnabas (the son of encouragement) wanted to include his cousin, John Mark. Paul adamantly said no to that suggestion. They took John Mark on the first trip, and he bailed when the going got tough. Paul had no desire to experience that again. He was not about to embark on a second mission trip with a proven quitter. “Fool me twice, shame on me.” Barnabas, on the other hand, saw great potential in his cousin, and he wanted to love and encourage John Mark back into useful service. Since neither man would budge on his convictions regarding what to do with John Mark, the dynamic duo was forced to part ways.
Isn’t it interesting that two godly men such as Paul and Barnabas had such a serious disagreement that they could no longer work together? Why is this story in the Bible? Could it be to show us that it is not uncommon for good and godly people to disagree?
DISAGREEMENTS IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
What can we learn from this situation to help us in our struggles with other Christians?
1. Life and ministry are filled with judgment calls. The situation with John Mark was not an issue of sin or immorality. There was no specific Scripture verse that said they should take him or should not take him. It was a judgment call … and Barnabas and Paul did not see the situation in the same way. Both had a great point to make in their respective arguments. You may be in an argument right now with a fellow Christian. You may think you are 100% right in your opinion. You may be … but he/she may have a good point also.
2. We often struggle to find the proper balance between love and truth. Paul was strong on truth. The truth of the gospel was too important to risk another bail out by a proven quitter. Barnabas was strong on love. The love of Christ was too important to not offer another chance to his cousin. In your life, you will gravitate toward love or truth. We need both.
3. Godly people can disagree without getting bitter and disagreeable. Paul and Barnabas couldn’t work together anymore, but they could still love and support one another. They were not bitter enemies; they were still brothers in the Lord and teammates in the work of the kingdom. How about you? When you hit a point of disagreement with your friend, workmate, or pastor, can you agree to disagree and still stay friends? Bitterness is a cancer of the soul. God hates it because it destroys lives and defiles many people.
4. If you hit an impasse, yield to the leader. Who was right in this disagreement? Was it the love of Barnabas that should have prevailed, or was it the truth of Paul? The Bible doesn’t specifically say who was right and who was wrong in the way they viewed the situation. However, the rest of the book of Acts is dedicated to the life of Paul. He was God’s chosen instrument. He was the leader of the mission team. What is the lesson here? If you hit an impasse on a judgment call issue, yield to the leader. If you disagree with your husband or your pastor or your boss on a judgment call issue (not a sin issue), yield to his leadership. God will bless you for yielding to authority.
5. Know that the Lord works all things together for good. The split of Paul and Barnabas produced two mission teams. The Lord’s work did not suffer, it thrived. And what about John Mark? The Bible tells us he became a useful servant to Paul (2 Tim 4:11). God used him to write the Gospel of Mark. What accounted for his great turnaround? Was it the love and encouragement of Barnabas … or the stinging rebuke of Paul? I think both were used to help him become a great man of God.
DISAGREEMENTS IN YOUR LIFE
You and I will certainly face judgment call disagreements in life, ministry, marriage, and family. That is just a given. Ask God to help you see the situation from the other person’s perspective. Ask God to help you develop a healthy balance between love and truth. Never let your heart get bitter. Godly people can disagree without becoming disagreeable.
Perhaps you have had a falling out with someone over a judgment call issue. Perhaps you left a job, a ministry, or a church poorly. Perhaps you are bitter and resentful. Confess it to God and get it out of your heart. Pick up the phone, humble your heart, and right the wrong with the other person. You will be so glad you did… and God will be glorified.
Pastor Jeff Schreve,
From His Heart Ministries
Dr. Jeff Schreve believes that no matter how badly you may have messed up in life, God still loves you and has a wonderful plan just for you. From His Heart provides real truth, love and hope on over 700 radio stations each day, in 182 countries each week on TV, and is always available online. Pastor Jeff takes no income from this ministry. All donations go to furthering the broadcast outreach. As a listener/viewer supported ministry, we thank you for joining with us to help speak the truth in love to a lost and hurting world. Go to www.fromhisheart.org for more information.