Dispute resolution

In one of his rare private moments with his disciples, Jesus took it upon himself to settle a dispute among them that could have turned into a scandal if it was left unchecked. Jesus began by asking his disciples, “What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? Embarrassed by their petty argument, Mark tells us that no one answered, “But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest” (Mark 9:34). The Greek word translated greatest, meizon (mide’-zone) suggests that Jesus’ disciples were comparing themselves to each other based on their stature, importance, the reputation they had gained by their ability or more specifically, their achievements (3187). In other words, they were arguing amongst themselves about who was the best disciple. It is likely they were boasting about their accomplishments in order to show off and make each other jealous.

Jesus took this opportunity to sit down with his disciples and have a heart to heart talk with them. It was no doubt important to Jesus that he get everyone’s attention and made sure all of his disciples understood what he was about to say to them. Mark tells us, “And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me” (Mark 9:36-37). The point Jesus was trying to make was that stature or importance was not based on their accomplishments.

Jesus went on to explain to his disciples that the most important thing in God’s kingdom was not their accomplishments of casting out devils or healing the sick, but their loyalty to one another. He said, “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward” (Mark 9:41). The Greek word translated reward, misthos means pay for service or wages(3408). In other words, if you think about what we do for God as a job, the only thing we get paid for is what we do in the name of Jesus, for example, taking care of each others needs. Jesus clarified his statement by saying, we will not be rewarded for taking care of everyone’s needs, but only those that belong to Christ, the body of believers known as his church.


The root cause of the conflict between Rick and I was jealousy. Although Rick was almost 40 and had never been married when we met, he was extremely attractive and had a way of connecting with women that made me wonder why he was still a bachelor. What I realized after I got to know him was that Rick fell in love with every woman he met and was unable to commit to being with just one person. If I wanted to be a part of his life, I would have to share Rick with all the other women that loved him just as much as I did.

Like me, Solomon’s lover wanted to be the only woman in his life. She said to him, “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm” (Solomon 8:6). Women seem to be more inclined toward jealousy and have a hard time accepting the idea that it is possible to love more than one person. Solomon’s lover concluded, “For love is as strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave; the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame” (Solomon 8:6). It is very dangerous to fall in love with a man that cannot be faithful to one woman.

The reason jealousy is as cruel as the grave is because it can separate us from the one we love. When Rick left me, it broke my heart. It felt like I was dead or that I might die because of how miserable I was without him. But, as much as I wanted to be with him, I couldn’t bring myself to the point of accepting that Rick didn’t belong to me. Rick was not a possession, he was a man, free to love whomever he pleased.