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Keeping The Peace
By Brian Price 5/23/2012

1 And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.

2 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.

3 And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai;

4 Unto the place of the altar, which he had make there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.

5 And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.

6 And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.

7 And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.

8 And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.

9 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.

10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.

11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. - Genesis 13:1-11

Here we read of Abraham and Lot, and how these two relatives had strife within their dwelling place. Abraham's herdmen supposedly had some sort of strife with Lot's herdmen.

Perhaps the herds of Lot were feeding in Abraham's territory, and Abraham's herdmen strove with Lot's herdmen because of that. Perhaps they felt like there was too much cattle in such a small area of land with them living so close.

A lot of people often choose to live away from the city because they do not like to live so close to people. Perhaps that is how these men Abraham and Lot felt.

Perhaps they felt like they were cramped. Because if you read in verse 6, it says, "And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together."

Both of these men had so much substance, and so much riches, they had to separate from each other. Many times you see farmers in America spread very far out. The reason for that is to give their cattle space to feed without overstepping their boundaries.

Many times people can overstep their boundaries in our lives.

Perhaps they offend us by their unkind words. Or maybe the way they treat us. There is not a single person on this earth who has not had face to face standoffs with someone. Whether it be our parents, or our spouses, our children, or as in the apostle Paul's case, our very best friend.

"36 And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.

37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. 38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.

39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;

40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.

41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches." - Acts 15::36-41

You know we can often get into a fight with someone we really care about. Barnabas was a very good friend of Paul's. And it is sad to read this story about Paul because Barnabas was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost, as we can read in previous chapters. But Paul let his personal desires get the best of him, and it caused him to get into a fight with Barnabas. As far as we can see from scripture, no fists were thrown, but strong words were spoken from each of these men.

Because it says in verse 39, "And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus."

In this case, the issue at hand was not whether or not to take Mark, or to take someone else. The issue at hand was pride.

The Bible says that, "Only by pride cometh contention, but with the well advised is wisdom." - Proverbs 13:10

Paul's problem here was not Mark, but pride. Had he taken the humble route, perhaps he would have said something like, "I do not agree with you about taking Mark, but if you think we should give him a second, then okay."

Humility gives. Pride takes.

Humility says, "Here you can have it. It's okay."

Pride says, "You're an idiot. Its my way or the highway."

And Barnabas chose the highway as we can read in verse 39, "And so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus."

But you know, we don't have to let friendships or relationships end on such a bad note. In fact we really don't have to let them end at all.

You know, I really wonder what things would have been like had Paul and Barnabas resolved their issue. I really wonder. Maybe Paul's testimony would not have been so ruined. Maybe Barnabas and Paul would have done a better work. We're not sure. And yes, all things do work together for good, but notice that this was a mistake. This strife was not supposed to happen. Barnabas and Paul were not meant to have this contention because it is sin.

So I wonder what things would have been like had they resolved their issue.

But notice the kind of spirit Abraham had in Genesis chapter 13, verse 8, "And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren."

Abraham knew that keeping the peace was more important than who gets what land. He knew that it really didn't matter which land Lot had gotten. If Lot chose Sodom, then Abraham would have headed south. If he chose south, Abraham would have went north.

Many times we think our way is the only way to go. It's not. We must compromise with each other, and let by-gons be by-gons.

Ephesians chapter 4, verses 1 through 3,

"1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

Notice Paul said to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Paul knew what keeping the peace was all about. He knew he had made a mistake. And in one epistle, Paul even says about Mark, that "...take him, and bring him with thee, for he is profitable to me for the ministry." And I imagine that Paul did get right with Barnabas and Mark. I'd hate to think that Paul just let things go. But I'm just speculating. Nobody is really sure.

But notice the Bible says "..endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Peace should be our ultimate goal. And don't think that I am completely innocent of not keeping the peace. I have often been guilty of being unkind and saying bad things to my friends. We all struggle to keep the peace.

So peace should be the goal of every Christian, especially towards another Christian. We ought not to be fighting and bickering with each other over things. I mean, honestly, what difference does it make if you like the pink basket, and your husband likes the blue one?

Is it really worth the fight?

No of course not. I mean, who cares if we take Mark or Silas? "Barnabas, you know what, you're right. Let's give Mark another chance." Or, "You know Paul, I agree. Mark is a little immature, and he needs some time to grow. I think Silas would be a better choice to take with us."

I really wonder how things would have turned out had Paul and Barnabas been a bit more humble; had they chosen to just get along.

God wants us to have peace with one another.

Jesus said in Mark chapter 9 verse 50, "Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another."

Peace should be our ultimate goal with our loved ones. Not getting our way.

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