1. Have you ever wondered how you might have avoided an interpersonal offense that caused years of regret? No doubt, Paul and Barnabas must have asked themselves that question after they parted company over a dispute regarding the credibility of John Mark.
Both apostles should have been able to find some ingenious solution to the problem since their inability to agree left painful consequences for the entire church. Even Mark should have realized the predicament he would put Christian leaders in when he deserted Paul during their first missionary journey.
Application: Ask the Lord to help you learn how to avoid regrettable faults that may take years to heal. Preventive medicine is worth a pound of cures.
2. Take time to remember all the good things about other people before you abandon them. Paul should have remembered how much he owed Barnabas for his good help. Barnabas owed too much to Paul for his outstanding Christian service to leave him at a time of need. Learn to keep the bigger picture about one another’s virtues, accomplishments and spiritual gifts.
Application: Ask the Lord to help you recall the positive rather than the negative aspects of what people have in Christ before engaging in an argument.
Consider the long-term consequences of your actions, attitudes and perspectives. Do not stop loving people because they make mistakes.
3. Be mindful of all the positive things you share together in Christ. Paul wrote, "Since we have encouragement in Christ, fellowship in the Spirit, affection and compassion and consolation of love·be of the same mind toward one another. Do not merely look on your own interests but also for the interests of others." (Phil. 2:1-4)
Application: Ask the Lord to help you to follow Paulâs teaching whenever you are tempted to do something that you will later regret.
4. Consider the greater good that may be accomplished for Godâs purposes. Two are better than one for they have a good reward for their labor." (Eccl. 4:4)
Illustration: Two horses are able to pull ten times as much weight as one single horse by itself. Ask the Lord to help you remember the power of the synergistic efforts of the body of Christ working in harmony with all of its members. (I Cor. 12)
5. Self-sacrifice and humility is the best way to avoid committing regrettable faults. There are battles that are not really worth fighting for. Jesus said, "If anyone will come after me, take up your cross daily, deny yourself and follow me." (Luke 9:23,24) Those who refuse to practice self-sacrifice tend to live in regret.
Application: Ask the Lord to help you overcome any unwillingness to sacrifice selfish interests or be prepared to live with an eternity of regrets.
6. Be thankful that the Lord judges us by our consistent attitudes not by our occasional faults. It is sad that many of us are like Paul who was unable to work together with Mark for nearly twenty years.
Application: Ask the Lord to help you evaluate people by their overall attitudes rather than by one or two occasional outbursts of anger.
7. Thank God that the Lord is able to bring healing, resolution and growth through every unfortunate personal mistake. Paul eventually wrote, "Send Mark for he is useful to me." (2 Tim. 4:11) It took Paul twenty years before he could publicly admit to his need for reconciliation with Mark.
Application: Ask the Lord to help you trust Him to bring the reconciliation, healing and growth that can come out of regrettable faults. Trust the Lord to help you to avoid offense by keeping a clear conscience toward God and people. (Acts 20:24)