We see in this passage a break in the partnership between Paul and Barnabas. And it came because of a young man named Mark. Mark had initially joined them on their first missionary journey, but for some reason had decided to go home early. Why, we don’t know. Perhaps he had been homesick. Maybe he hadn’t been ready to handle the opposition they faced. Whatever his reasons, Paul apparently felt they weren’t good ones, and he had felt abandoned by Mark.
So when, on planning a second missions trip, Barnabas suggested taking Mark again, Paul vehemently nixed the idea. Barnabas got so upset about this, that he parted company from Paul and went with Mark to do missions work in Cyprus, while Paul went his own way with Silas.
I can totally understand Paul’s feelings. It’s hard to work with someone you can’t trust. But in this case, he forgot the very thing he preached: grace. Later, he would come to recognize this. Given a second chance, Mark proved himself faithful, to Barnabas, then to Peter, and ultimately to Paul. Some time later, Paul wrote to Timothy, saying,
Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. (II Timothy 4:11)
Ultimately, when you think about it, there had to be grace on both sides. Paul in forgiving Mark’s past failings, and Mark in forgiving any hard feelings he had had on Paul’s rejection of him. But they both gave each other second chances and were blessed because of it.
How about you? Has someone let you down? Has someone hurt you? Just as God has given us second chance after second chance, we need to give others second chances too. Am I saying that we must put our full faith in them right away after they have failed us? No. But we should give them a chance to earn that trust. And as they prove themselves worthy of that trust, gradually let go of your reservations, and start believing in them again.
Our Father is the God of second chances. As his children, shouldn’t we be the same?