Ministry Resources

NT Fire Starters – Day 182: Acts 15:36-16:15

READ: Acts 15:36–16:15

THINK: Have you disagreed with anyone lately? Maybe your day is just starting but you’ve already been at odds with someone. Perhaps you’ve even second-guessed yourself in the process of getting ready. If you associate with free-thinking, opinionated, creative people in any way you’ll encounter countless disagreements–big and small. But disagreements aren’t the main problem. How you handle them can be. When you find yourself in a dispute you have a choice. Allow the situation to deteriorate, tearing down those involved, or reach a compromise that allows for growth. This doesn’t mean you have to reach the same opinion. People can go different ways, do different things and still benefit both ways if they keep the right attitude, aim to honor God and pursue His purposes more intensely.

RESPOND: What does Paul’s and Barnabas’ sharp disagreement indicate about relationships even among strong Christians leaders? (See 15:39 note.) Why do such tensions sometimes arise? Can God still have His way through contentious issues among believers? How so? When people agree to disagree, how should they handle things from that point on, and how should this affect their relationship? What was the result of Paul’s and Barnabas’ proper handling of this situation (cf. 15:40 and 16:5)? When Paul had Timothy circumcised, what did this demonstrate about the need to accommodate others’ standards in order to effectively minister to them? In what ways can this involve both loosening and tightening your own personal preferences, standards and restrictions? Why do you think the Spirit kept Paul and His companions from going one direction instead of another? (See 16:6 note.)

PRAY: Ask God to help you handle disputes with other Christians in ways that honor Him, so that everyone involved can continue serving God’s purposes.

ACT: If you’ve had a significant disagreement with someone–particularly another Christian–connect with that person and make every effort to either settle the difference or agree to disagree in a gracious and constructive manner. Also, make a mature decision to adjust your personal freedoms and preferences–perhaps loosening up in some areas and restricting yourself in others–depending on what will give people a more accurate impression of Jesus, reflect godly standards, and make it easier for you to convey His message to them.

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