As I was walking into a store the other day, I heard a man in the parking lot talking on the phone by his car. I don’t know who he was talking to, but I heard him say, “I’ve got the Holy Ghost. He’s got the Holy Ghost, but we just can’t get along.” I almost stopped, but it was none of my business. As I walked through the store, I kept thinking about what he said. There are people all of us come into contact with that we’re not going to get along with. That’s ok. However, how you handle it is very important when you’re a Christian, and especially when you’re both Christians.
In Acts 15, two of the greatest missionaries of the Early Church had a disagreement. Mark went on the first trip, but shortly thereafter decided he wanted to go home. When it came time for the second trip, Mark wanted to go again. Paul opposed it, but Barnabas felt he deserved a second chance. Their difference of opinion was very strong and irreconcilable. Instead of destroying each other in the process, the decided to split up and go separate ways. Because they handled it the right way, both were able to do incredible ministry and even more people came to know Jesus. Years later, Paul asked for Mark to be brought to him because he was useful in the ministry.
Ephesians 4:3 says, “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace” (NLT). As Paul, Barnabas and Mark worked together trying to stay united in the Spirit, so should we. It’s not ok to devalue another believer when we have a disagreement. We are united in the Spirit and are a part of the same body. The Bible included this disagreement to show us that we can part ways without destroying each other in the process and to be able to lead effective ministries. Do your part in these circumstances to keep the harmony and to not allow your flesh to get in the way or take over. Instead, let God’s love seek the best for each other and the situation understanding that both sides are valued by God and are useful to Him.
Who do you know that challenges you to do more for God? There are certain people I look at that cause me to want to do more for God’s Kingdom. One sees a need and immediately jumps in and starts a ministry filling the need. When others jump in and run along side him, he hands off the ministry to one of them and looks for another need. It’s such a stark contrast to how so many people do ministry. I asked him about it once. He said, “All ministry belongs to God so I keep an open hand with it. When people come along side who are more passionate and gifted than I am in it, I give it to them and ask God what’s next.” Something like that causes me to look around with different eyes looking to see what God wants to do around me and through me to do good.
In the Bible, Solomon realized he couldn’t be as good of a king to the people as his father David was. He prayed for wisdom to help him be a good king. Peter and John challenged the early Church to look for opportunities everywhere. The healing of the beggar they were passing by at the Gate Beautiful in Acts 3:6 is a great example. Paul and Barnabas set off on long journeys going where God told them to go in order to spread the Gospel throughput the known world. Each of these people drew their inspiration from someone and also inspired others to lead more productive lives that touched the lives of others. I believe that’s what God is calling us to do even today.
Hebrews 10:24 says, “Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good” (GNT). As believers, we must be concerned for someone other than ourselves. We need to be looking to the fields with eyes that are open and hearts that ask, “Who can I show your love to today, Father?” We need to be encouraging other believers, especially in the times we live in. Send a text today to someone who needs it. Make a meal for a family in need. Show love to someone who clearly has been overlooked by society. There is opportunity everywhere for you to show love and do good, but you must quit looking to your own needs and desires long enough to see it. God has given us as believers a great opportunity in the world today to rise up and show concern and His love. What will you do?
In middle school, every day during lunch a group of us would sit at the same table with one goal in mind, make someone cry. We would spend the entire hour doing put down contests. Two of us would face off and trade put downs until one of us cried or ran out of out downs. I learned to develop thick skin and to have quick retorts. The down side of that is that I spent decades putting people down not understanding the power of my words. Because I had developed thick skin, I assumed everyone had the ability to prevent words from affecting them long term. I later learned the power of the tongue and how important it was to build people up instead of tearing them down.
Paul was a person who underwent a transformation. He thought he was pleasing God by tearing down Christians, but had the Damascus Road experience where Jesus changed him. Later, God chose he and Barnabas to work together to build people up. Barnabas’ name actually means, “Son of Encouragement”. How cool is that? He lived up to his name through encouraging Paul and others to reach their potential through spiritual growth. We don’t hear a whole lot about him, but we know that for a season, the two of these men challenged each other and the Early Church together. Their goal was to win people to Christ and to lead believers into spiritual maturity through their words.
Our goal is no different. Romans 14:19 says, “So then, let us pursue [with enthusiasm] the things which make for peace and the building up of one another [things which lead to spiritual growth]” (AMP). What words do you use when speaking with others? Are they building them up or are they tearing them down? Are you contentious or are you a peacemaker? God’s Word is clear. The power of life and death are in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). We must choose our words carefully and use them to speak life and encourage growth. There are enough things in this world to bring division to us. Instead of focusing on those or letting them rule us, let’s look for commonalities and work to build each other up and unite ourselves together as one.