“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;”
Relationships are a wonderful thing to enjoy, but every close relationship has had times of contention. You cannot be close to someone without having disagreements at some point. Sometimes, those times of disagreements can turn into contention, and if it is not handled correctly, the source of contention can cause a rift in the relationship that may never get settled.
One of the best teams in the Scriptures was Barnabas and Paul, but even their relationship experienced a contention “so sharp” that they decided to part ways. The Scriptures never reveal if this was God’s will for them to part ways with each other, but it shows that two very good men had a source of contention. This incident between Barnabas and Paul teaches several lessons about resolving contention.
First, realize that good people will have contention. You can’t work together with someone without having a disagreement with them at some point. Just because you have a disagreement doesn’t mean you have to end the relationships. Too many people allow the source of contention to end a good relationship when they could have accomplished many things together had they resolved their contention.
Second, arguing and yelling gets you nowhere. Yelling at each other or arguing with them will never allow you to deal with the source of the contention. You have a better chance of resolving your source of contention if you will have a cordial conversation.
Third, deal with the problem at hand. You will never resolve contention by bringing up things from the past. The only thing you must deal with when you are experiencing contention is the situation that has caused the contention. Trying to bring everything else into the conversation to deal with the contention only causes the contention to grow.
Fourth, don’t allow your pride to get involved in the conversation. You have to be willing to be wrong if you are going to resolve contention. I have watched good men never resolve contention between themselves because pride got in the way of them admitting where they were wrong. My friend, you are not perfect; therefore, you probably have done something wrong that you could admit if you would remove pride from your life. Pride is the only thing that keeps you from admitting that you are wrong in a contentious relationship. Removing pride from your life allows you to see clearly where you are wrong, and it allows you to deal with what you have done that caused contention.
Fifth, avoid the source of contention so the work can go on. Sometimes, you just have to avoid what causes the contention so you can work together. You both have to agree not to bring up what you disagree about so that you can work together. There is no shame in agreeing to disagree and avoiding the disagreement while with each other so the work can continue.
Sixth, walk away if you can’t settle the contention. If you walk away until you cool down, you will find that you could find a way to resolve your contention with another. Walking away is always better than destroying a lifetime friendship.