Image by Fr. Stephen, MSC via Flickr
Read Acts 15:39-41
“There was such a sharp disagreement that they parted company and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed off to Cyprus.” (vs. 39)
We touched on the preceding verse last time and Beth continues with a four-step plan for dealing with conflicts between believers.
- “Identify the real source of the argument. Ask the Holy Spirit to shed light on the TRUE source. Sometimes we believe that conviction is the motivation for our differing views until we allow God to reveal our selfishness or unwillingness to change. Part of spiritual maturity is risking our position in favor of the will and glory of God. Let’s be willing to allow Him to shed light on any selfish or worldly motive.
- Submit the issue to God. James 4:7 exhorts, “Submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you.’ ‘When we ask God to remove all selfish, worldly motives and influences of the enemy, issues often either disappear or downsize to a workable level.
- Resist the temptation to sin in your anger. Anger in and of itself is not sin. It is an emotion, and sometimes a very appropriate emotion. But unfortunately, anger heightens the risk of wrong actions or words. Each of us regrets something we’ve said or done in anger.
- Pray for (and if possible, with) the other person involved. Prayer changes things and people! Philippines 4:6 invites us to “pray about everything”. Can you imagine how defeated the enemy would be if two divided leaders or laymen got down on their knees together and prayed for God’s glory? We don’t have to be together on every issue, but we can be together in prayer.”
Do you have any other ideas to share?
“Now may the God of endurance and encouragement grant you agreement with one another, according to Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice.” Romans 15:5-6 HCSB
Paul, 90 Days in His Journey of Faith / Beth Moore / B & H Publishing
Read Acts 14:20b-22
“The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe. They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. (NIV)
Paul and Barnabas are in Derbe and then they returned to the same towns where they suffered many hardships. Remember last time they stoned Paul and dragged him out of town … left for dead! So why in the world would they go back through these towns again?
Acts 14:22 tells us they went back to “strengthen the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.” “Paul and Barnabas considered this message about inevitable hardships such a priority that they risked everything to go back through those three cities and tell it.’ ‘We may not find a message about unavoidable troubles very strengthening! But we must first recognize that the inevitable nature of hardships can motivate us to redirect our energies.
- Fear of trials sometimes depletes more energy than facing trials.
- Realizing the inevitability of hardship encourages us in the faith.” (2)
“We wonder why we can’t seem to muster enough faith to be healthy, problem free, and prosperous. Be encouraged to know that difficulty is not a sign of immaturity or faithlessness. The Holy Spirit will do His job and let you know if you are suffering because of sin. Otherwise, remember – we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (3)
Sometimes hardships can be directly related to sin/disobedience in our life and sometimes not. We should make a conscious effort to ask for guidance from those we trust. We should also be praying and asking the Holy Spirit to bring clarity and truth; as Beth points out above “He will do His job.”
In the case of Paul and Barnabas, they suffered for doing what was right! They returned to the very cities they were persecuted in and encouraged the disciples to “remain true to the faith.” Think about the faith they carried to share a message greater than the trials they had previously gone through. What would they have said?
Do you bring encouragement to those who are going through difficult times and reminding them to be true to their faith …even if you may going through difficult times yourself?
(1-3) Paul, 90 Days in His Journey of Faith/Beth Moore/B & H Publishing