“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Sometimes the best resolution to a conflict is a separation, even if it’s temporary. When emotions run high, you need space to think clearly. And God can use this time of separation for His glory. Because Paul and Barnabas parted, the gospel was preached in even more cities. But when a temporary separation is the best option, you need to agree on how long it will be. In some friendships, one person may have outgrown the relationship. But this should be handled with love and wisdom, realizing that we can all learn from our mistakes and grow through them.
Later Paul wrote, “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11 NKJV). Lesson two: when you realize that you’ve been wrong, you need to acknowledge it.
For a single, focused leader like Paul, this called for humility. Indeed, it’s a comfort to us to know that someone as anointed and brilliant as Paul could rethink his position and come to a different conclusion. Mistakes may be bad; but they’re not as bad as the pride that seeks to defend and perpetuate them. Lesson three: you must learn to disagree without being disagreeable. It’s noteworthy that nowhere in Scripture do we find a time when Paul talked publicly about their disagreement.
Both Paul and Barnabas focused on their respective missions. The only behavior you have the power to change is your own. And this should be your reason for doing so: “We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).
Heavenly Father, help me to speak the truth in love — and never to tear down someone else. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.