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Paul’s Mistakes: 2. Valuing Goals Over Relationships

    Apostles Paul and Barnabas

    In the last post we looked at how in Athens Paul made the mistake of trusting in his intellect. This post will look at how in Antioch Paul made the mistake of valuing goals over relationships. May these short glimpses into Paul’s mistakes keep us from the same common traps.

    Paul and Barnabas Part Ways

    After the successful first missionary tour, Paul and Barnabas wanted to go back to those cities they previously visited to see how they were doing. Barnabas wanted to take John Mark, but Paul didn’t. John Mark started the first trip with Paul and Barnabas, yet he abandoned them halfway through. Paul refused to have him come; Barnabas refused to go without him. “They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company” (Acts 15:39).

    Barnabas takes John Mark back to the Cypriot cities; Paul joins with Silas and heads back to the cities in the interior of Asia Minor where John Mark didn’t visit before. It was in Paul’s first stop on this second trip that he meets up with Timothy, and everything seems fine.

    Sometimes because God choses not to reprimand every sin, we think he condones our decisions. Paul chose not to forgive John Mark and promoted broken relationships in favor of attaining ministry goals. However we are given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18), and we cannot model reconciliation with God if we can’t live it out with others.

    Paul’s New View on Forgiveness

    Thankfully Paul gives us a different model later on. He exhorts the Corinthians to forgive, comfort, and reaffirm their love to one they had problems with (2 Corinthians 2:7-8). There is a place for consequences, but relationships are more important than paying for mistakes.

    People may slow you down. They may frustrate you. However, choosing relationships will always advance you in the kingdom.

    Barnabas chose John Mark over what may have been another successful ministry trip. In doing so he advanced the kingdom for us all. John Mark became the author of one of the four Gospels. If Barnabas allowed him to be tossed aside, we could have a lesser view of who Jesus is. Paul also came around on his view of Mark. While in a Roman prison, Paul asks Timothy to send John Mark to him “because he is helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11).

    Are we choosing our ministry over relationships? Do we only focus on relationships we believe will help us advance in our careers? Love is only love when we don’t demand something in return. Jesus laid down His life down for others. This is true ministry. Let us see what is valuable in the kingdom and go after those things. Jesus would leave the 99 for the 1. Let’s don’t make the mistake of casting out the 1 for the sake of the 99.

    original image by Jacob Jordaens

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