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  • Writer's pictureOlufunmilayo Adekusibe

DEALING WITH CONTENTION


 

Today’s Reading:

Acts 15:22-41 (vv. 37-40)

“Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. 38But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work, 39Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so, Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus, 40but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God.” (vv. 37-40)

 

It seemed unbelievable to hear of contention, conflict between two mature, godly missionaries that had served God so successfully, but it is true. Paul and Barnabas sharply disagreed over taking John Mark with them on the second Missionary journey. According to Paul, he had once deserted them on the first journey (13:13). They had to go different ways with different partners. Barnabas took John Mark, his cousin and sailed to Cyprus, and Paul chose Silas and after being entrusted to the Lord’s grace travelled by land to Syria and Cilicia strengthening the churches there. Another likely cause of this conflict may be the accusation of playing hypocrisy that Paul brought against Barnabas of mixing with the Gentiles in secret (Gal. 2:13).


The reality of the Scripture can be trusted because it presents the Bible heroes plain as they really are – their emotions, their character, and their flaws. Examples of this are i) Moses was the most humble and he talked with God face to face. The Scripture did not hide the fact that he once murdered an Egyptian; ii) David was presented as a friend of God and very submissive, but his sordid affairs with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah her husband was not hidden from student of the Bible. In repentance to this, David wrote Psalm 51; iii) in the case of Jonah, his high prejudice towards Nineveh was not hidden.


This passage exposes the heated argument between two matured evangelists, they agreed to disagree. This can be expected of matured Christians in ministry and the same situations occur every day in our interactions with friends, children, husbands and wives, siblings, and co-workers. And so, when we face disagreements or contentions in our dealings with each other, we should: as much as possible, seek to understand the other party’s point of view. This requires grace of God, patience and being objective. We should be able to swallow our pride and realise that our opinion may not be the best in the situation, especially from the other party’s point of view. Especially where both parties have large support, there should be wise compromise. Even when the disagreements are not doctrinal, compromise is the best option. As in the case of Paul and Barnabas, the controversy was not doctrinal, it is in regard to John mark’s faithfulness. Recognise the fact that where compromise is not possible, then be ready to bear the consequences. An example is the case of a young storekeeper who decided to steal from the shop where he works. And when he came to his senses and reported himself to his superior, he was fired. This young lad learnt early in life the consequences of stealing. The boss may not have sacked him out of hatred, but to let him know that we take responsibility for our actions and decisions, whether good or bad.


Where we cannot reach a compromise, we disagree without being disagreeable. In order words, we avoid dragging around grudges. Where it involves forgiveness, someone has to make the first move. At times when one forgives, the damage done is still there. But where a brief separation is possible, it can be a healing tool for a friendship fractured under a weight of fundamental disagreement. A lot of churches are born out of hasty disagreement. If we must part ways with a church or another person, it is humility to realise that God can still bless the other party, and if He does, we should rejoice with each other. This is a good mark of forgiveness. Though in the parting ways of Paul and Barnabas, God still worked out his mysterious plan through conflict and disagreement. John Mark was later useful in Paul’s ministry (2Tim. 4:11; Col. 4:10). There is bound to be disagreement in relationships, but we must seek to solve problems by agreeing to disagree and letting God have his way

OLUFUNMILAYO TITILOLA ADEKUSIBE


Prayers:

  1. Father lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil, in Jesus name.

  2. Create in me a pure heart, renew a right, humble and teachable spirit within me, in Jesus name.

  3. My Father master my life and empower me to shun every bait of the enemy, in Jesus name.

  4. Father, revive your work in your Church, let there be love, unity and harmony of purpose, in Jesus name.

  5. O God of Elijah, in your power scatter every gathering and plan of the wicked against our nation, in Jesus name.




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