by Ethelyn Martin
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Acts 15:37-39 (King James Version)
And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.
But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.
And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; *
The account of Paul and Barnabas is a sad account of what too often happens in churches to good friends and those who started off working together for the cause of Christ.
*In Acts chapter nine the son of consolation and a former fiery Pharisee, now a new believer, meet. It was the start of a very Spirit filled and Spirit led work for the cause of Jesus the Christ. For many years Barnabas and Paul worked together as a team, and the book of Acts records that many were added to the church as they taught and preached together. During a time of fasting a prayer, these men full of faith and the Holy Spirit were set apart by God for a specific work. Together they had faced opposition from the outside, and their relationship had weathered the assault. After all they had been through together; after the LORD Himself had put them together as partners; after all the things the Lord had accomplished through them and because of them - it is just a sin and shame that these God -fearing men, separated company over something so eternally insignificant.
Those who had observed them working together, now saw and heard them sharply part company. Paul went to Syria and Barnabas sailed for Cyprus, but the church at Antioch talked about their decision for a long time. And people did talk. Anyone who has been in church for a while knows that a heated argument and disagreement among leaders of the congregation causes no small stir. Two prominent leaders in the church; two men that God Himself had brought together; two men that were respected and beloved by others, decided to part company. People talked. Among the deaths of the saints like Stephen, the relationship between the son of consolation, and one who considered himself the chiefest of sinners is a tragic loss we overlook in the book of Acts.
It is a sad commentary on the son of consolation's life to have this contention be the last thing we have recorded about him in the scriptures. Surely, Satan rejoiced as this powerful team broke up, and he would use it to discourage the brethren.
As he does today. The account of Paul and Barnabas is centuries old, but sharp contention is still seen in the church.
Godly women who love the Lord have allowed something eternally insignificant to tear them apart. Women who have heretofore, worked well together; did great things in the name of the LORD together, now don't even speak to one another. Care we not that the things that could have been done by the two together will never be accomplished because neither party valued the relationship as important as the Lord Himself did? This happens too often among those who are supposed to be known by the love we have one for another. Nay, my sisters, we are wretched and disobedient when we lack any remorse for a broken relationship with a sister in Christ. How can we say we love the LORD and His commandments when we refuse to speak to someone in the house of God? Care we not that others have observed our behavior and it may have damaged their relationship with the LORD or discouraged them in some way? Are we not concerned that our actions could be a stumbling block to someone in the faith?
So beloved, what was it that you determined to do? Your friend and partner in the ministry, thought differently, so you then determined to separate company. How is that working out for you? Let me ask you also - was it worth it?
The separation from your friend and partner - was it worth it? Are you confident that the LORD you profess to love is pleased with your decision? Looking back on the moment you decided to go your separate ways, were you led of the Lord or emotion? Have you ever tried to restore the relationship?
May we look at this account as a warning to believers. Don't let your determination destroy a relationship. What God has brought together will your "determination" pull asunder? It would be the height of encouragement and consolation for others to see you and your partner in the ministry reconcile your relationship. At the very least - can you at least determine to speak to her?
Good friends and leaders in ministry - take heed lest you too should fall.
Be on guard for what the devil and others can use to pull you apart. What seems like a good thing may be the wedge that Satan needs to break apart an otherwise tight bond.
Don't take relationships for granted. Examine your motives, and before calling it quits seek first the will of the Lord. Your actions will speak loud and long in the hearts and minds of those who are observing both of you.
I beseech you to consider your testimony.
Acts 4:36 - 37
Acts 9:26- 28
Acts 11:20 -33
Acts 13: 1 – 13
Acts 13: 42- 55
Acts 14: 11-28
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