Prepare yourself to discern what is and what is not of God today. Still yourself so you can hear how God is calling you.
Acts 15:36-41 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Come, let us return and visit the believers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul decided not to take with them one who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not accompanied them in the work. The disagreement became so sharp that they parted company; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and set out, the believers commending him to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Barnabas isn’t a faith ancestor I’m terribly familiar with — maybe that goes for you, too. So I flipped back a few pages to learn more about Paul’s friend. Barnabas was with the disciples very early on, selling his property and giving the proceeds to the ministry of the believers. It was Barnabas who brought Saul/Paul to the rest of the disciples and vouched for his sincere conversion. After that, Paul and Barnabas were ministry partners, and are mentioned together often up until these verses.
After a good run of ministry and evangelism, they separate.
Over a disagreement. The adjective used in many translations is “sharp.”
Scripture doesn’t give us enough detail to “take sides,” although since Barnabas isn’t mentioned again, and Paul is, we are to assume that Paul’s version of things is the right outcome. Regardless, a good relationship built on love, faith, and trust is severed.
Could there have been a compromise? Could there have unity when there wasn’t any? Or was it healthy for this once-good relationship to end? It’s hard to answer these questions for Paul and Barnabas, but we can take time today and evaluate the relationships with other believers in our own life.
Paul continued on with valuable, Kingdom-building ministry with a new partner. Is God calling you to reconcile with an old friend, or move forward with new ones?
God our friend, we give you thanks for your closeness and for your constant love and support. Help us to take your concern for us and translate that into concern and care for our friends. Give us wisdom to know how to settle disputes, when to walk away, and when to try harder. We praise you for the example you gave us first in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Go with God!