22 Oct Choose Wisely
Recently I read a story in Acts 15 about Paul and Barnabas. In the story, Paul wanted to go back and visit the towns they had preached in previously so that they could check on the believers. Barnabas agreed but wanted to take along John, also called Mark (also sometimes referred to as John Mark). Paul refused, citing the fact that Mark had already deserted them once before. In other words, Mark was not reliable. Scripture says that they argued about this to the point that they parted ways; Barnabas left with Mark and they went to Cyprus, and Paul chose Silas and they went to Syria and Cilicia.
When I first read this, I thought it was just an interesting story about a disagreement between two strong-willed men. Hey, those things happen right? But after some additional study and meditation on the Word, I realized there are important lessons to be found within this story.
First, choose wisely. Paul was about to embark on his second missionary trip. He did not know what challenges were ahead but he knew that he needed someone he could depend on. He may not have known that he and Silas would one day be locked in a prison together but he knew that he needed a prayer and praise partner that could break whatever chains they found themselves in. Similarly, we must be thoughtful about who we partner with. We may not know the exact obstacles we will face on our mission, but we should recognize that we need a reliable prayer and praise partner that can help us make it through.
Second, don’t be afraid to let some people go. When Paul rejected Mark, he also ended up rejecting Barnabas. He and Barnabas had been working together for a while and their impact was unquestionable. With that said, their partnership was for a season. God often places people in our lives only for a defined time. He knows just who we need to strengthen us, encourage us and lift us up, but at a certain point, it is time to move on. He may give us a new partner to navigate the new path He has laid before us.
Third, people can change. Paul was adamant in his denial of Mark in Acts 15, but interestingly enough if we skip all the way to 2 Timothy 4:11, we find that things have shifted. Paul is actually asking for Mark (believed by biblical scholars to be the same Mark) to join him because he had been helpful to him in his ministry. He is also mentioned again in Philemon 1:24 as a “fellow worker.” Yes, it appears that Mark had changed. His commitment may have been questioned before, but he was now considered a necessary part of the ministry. We do not know what happened after they parted ways before. I am sure that Mark felt some sort of way about being rejected, but I also believe that he learned a valuable lesson and grew from that experience. Just because someone acted a certain way in the past does not mean they will always be that way. We should not judge others solely on their past, but rather evaluate who they are today and then decide if and where they fit in our circles.