Animosity is a strong feeling of dislike, ill will, resentment, or an antagonistic attitude. Within the world and within the body of Christ, animosity runs rampant. Some causes of animosity between believers are differences in beliefs, personality clashes, conflicts, pride and contention. Whatever the cause, it does not come from God and we must guard against it.
When it comes to disagreeing with others in the true body of Christ, we should be able to do it without feelings of animosity. You can disagree with a person without having feelings of dislike or ill will toward them. You can disagree with a person and still love them. When it comes to what we believe we must focus on what God says in His Word. There will be times that you will have to agree to disagree and get on with your life and what God has called you to do.
There were times that the disciples disagreed with each other, but they never had animosity toward each other.
Example – Dispute Over Doctrine
Peter and Paul had a dispute over circumcision. Paul felt that Peter’s behavior and actions did not line up with his words concerning what he said about circumcision. Basically, Paul thought Peter was a hypocrite and that his actions could divide the church. Since Peter had a great spear of influence, Paul felt it necessary to address the issue with Peter.
Galatians 2:11-14 NKJV
“Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?”
We must remember that Peter and Paul were both handpicked by God to spread the gospel. They had different callings therefore they did not see everything the same way. Even after their disagreement they both continued to serve God and they both had fruitful ministries. They did not have animosity toward each other even though they disagreed with each other.
Example: Dispute Over People
Paul and Barnabas disagreed over John Mark. Paul was adamant concerning John Mark not going with them on their journey. When Paul, Barnabas and John Mark had been in Pamphylia, John Mark had deserted them. The contention between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark was great. Instead of making this an issue within the church they parted ways and worked separately. Each one continued to serve the Lord and be faithful to Him.
Acts 15:30-41 NKJV
“So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter. When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement. Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words. And after they had stayed there for a time, they were sent back with greetings from the brethren to the apostles. However, it seemed good to Silas to remain there. Paul and Barnabas also remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.” Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. “
There are times that believers will not agree on details or aspects of ministry. When this happens it is sometimes better to go your separate ways. We must note that Barnabas did not use his position, he was a representative at the Jerusalem council, to speak against Paul or to try to alienate Paul from ministry. They simply went their separate ways and continued in ministry. To often today when people disagree in ministry one of them will use their position or power to alienate the other from ministry or to force them out of ministry. The “if you disagree with me you are out” mentality (also know as the “My way or the highway” attitude) has no place in the body of Christ.
Luke 9:49-50 NKJV
“Now John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.”
In the above passage Jesus is responding to a statement made by John. John though just because they did not know the man and he was not part of their group that he should not be ministering. This attitude is still in the world today.
Sometimes when a person goes their separate way and continues to minister they are thought of as being out of God’s will. Even though someone may not be in your circle it does not mean that they should be stopped or that God can’t or won’t use them for advancing His kingdom.
Jesus did not say the man John objected to was in sin, or a false teacher or anything like that. Therefore, we can assume that John based his objection to the man solely on the fact that he was not part of their group. The same still goes on in the church at large today.
Acts 5:38-39 NKJV
“And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it–lest you even be found to fight against God.”
The counsel that Gamaliel gave the Jewish Sanhedrin lines up with the teachings of Jesus, regardless of the motive in his heart (Gamaliel) when he said it. We must guard against allowing animosity in our heart because in the end we could be fighting against God, which is a very scary thought.