This past weekend Pastor Jeff Manion highlighted Paul and Barnabas’ sharp disagreement. Barnabas wants to recruit John Mark to revisit churches where they’d preached, to encourage and check in on their progress. Paul adamantly rejects this idea, reminding Barnabas that John Mark had abandoned them in Perga. To Paul, John Mark can’t be trusted. So they split. Barnabas and John Mark sail for Cyprus while Paul heads north to Syria and Cilcia.
While we ultimately don’t know why John Mark abandoned Paul in Perga, he (and maybe others) believed he had legitimate reasons to do so. Barnabas still trusts John Mark to continue the mission and accompany him to Cyprus. But Paul drew other conclusions, right or wrong, that led to their impasse and separation.
This isn’t unique to Paul. We face the daily temptation to fill in “gaps” with speculation, judgment, and assumptions. We miss out when we ignore that those with whom we disagree might have legitimate reasons for their position or actions. Often, there’s a defining moment we’re unaware of or a piece of information we don’t know that contributes to the personal convictions, choices, or viewpoints of others.
Today, identify sharp disagreements you’ve experienced and admit it’s quite possible the other person has legitimate reasons for their actions. As you consider how you might have drawn conclusions based on speculation, judgment, or assumptions, pray for God’s help to believe the best about others.