|Barnabas & Paul disagree - Artist unknown|
TO CHEW ON: "Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John departing from them, returned to Jerusalem." Acts 13:13
Have you ever been a quitter? I have. It's not a good feeling when you're in the middle of it, and the fact that you've quit can come back to bite you.
Here Luke slips into his story, almost like an aside, the fact that John (John Mark - Acts 15:37) leaves their ministry party at this time—no reason given. Later, how significant a fact it becomes when, on the next missionary jaunt Barnabas wants to take John Mark with them again but Paul refuses (Acts 15:37-38).
Both dig in their heels, a rift develops, and one missionary team becomes two as Barnabas takes Mark and they sail to Cypress while Paul finds Silas to accompany him through Syria and Cilicia.
The Bible isn't kind to quitters. Some things it says to those with such an attitude:
- Jesus says the person "…having put his hand to the plow, and looking back…") is not fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).
- In another place He talks about how impossible it is to serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).
- Paul describes those driven by doubt as "tossed to and fro and carried about…" (Ephesians 4:14).
- James uses the same sea metaphor and calls doubters "double-minded" (James 1:6,8).
So what if we've quit. Have we blown our whole lives?
Not necessarily. There was another chance for John Mark. In the end, the fallout between Paul and Barnabas resulted in two missionary parties going out. And this was the Mark who later wrote Gospel of Mark.
We may not be able to undo our giving up but we can learn from it:
- The importance of perseverance.
- The importance of relying on God and not ourselves when we're tempted to give up (James 4:8).
- The fact that with God in the equation, nothing is too hard: "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13).
PRAYER: Dear God, please alert me to attitudes that precede quitting, like self-pity, comparing myself to others, laziness… Help me to remember that with You I can do anything You ask. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.