7 Minute Read

Today’s Bible Reading:

2 Kings 6:1–7:20
Acts 15:36–16:15
Psalm 142:1-7
Proverbs 17:24-25

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Ephesians 4:32 (NLT): “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

The verse I have chosen for today is not found in today’s daily reading. Yet, in our Bible reading today, we see where it was desperately needed.

In Acts 15, we read that Paul and Barnabas wanted to visit some of the cities in which they had previously preached. They wanted to see how the believers were fairing. But a severe argument occurred as they were selecting who would go with them.

Acts 15:36-40 (NLT): “After some time Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let’s go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing.’ Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work. Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. Paul chose Silas, and as he left, the believers entrusted him to the Lord’s gracious care.”

Barnabas, the perpetual encourager who was always willing to overlook offenses, wanted to take John Mark. Paul, a man who was more task-oriented than people-oriented, didn’t want John Mark to go. This young man had deserted them on a previous trip, and Paul didn’t want a quitter anywhere near him.

The argument got so heated that Paul and Barnabas separated. Barnabas took John Mark, and Paul chose Silas.

Fortunately, Paul later recognized that he was wrong. Any apologies that may have been said are not recorded in Scripture. Yet, we see clear evidence that Paul eased up on John Mark and sought to affirm him rather than reject him. 

Just read these words penned by the Apostle Paul as he wrote his last letter before he was executed by the Romans. He asked Timothy to come to him soon and…

2 Timothy 4:9-11 (NLT): “Timothy, please come as soon as you can… Bring Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me in my ministry.”

Did you see that last sentence? Paul wanted to see John Mark, but he also said that he was helpful to him in ministry. Previously, he wanted to do ministry without him, but now he said that Mark was a valuable associate in ministry.

Isn’t it wonderful that two Christian men demonstrated the kind of grace they preached about? It has been my personal experience that this is quite rare in the Christian community (among leadership and in the pew).

Oh, and by the way, Mark wasn’t sitting on the sidelines waiting for Paul to affirm him. He was actively involved in ministry as he faithfully assisted the Apostle Peter and wrote the Gospel that bears his name.

So, from this, we can draw at least two applications to take with us today:

– We’re going to disagree with others from time to time. But, it doesn’t need to separate us. Recognize that since we have been forgiven and accepted by Jesus, we should extend the same acts of grace to others.

– We should not rely upon the affirmation of others to determine what we do for the Kingdom. While it feels good to be accepted by others, we are ultimately working to please our King. So, get busy in ministry (ALL Christians should be involved in ministry) regardless of what others may or may not think of you.

Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Photo by Stillness In Motion on Unsplash