BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, ‘Who shall be first to go up for us against the Canaanites to fight against them?’ And the LORD said, ‘Judah shall go up. Indeed I have delivered the land into his hand.’ So Judah said to Simeon his brother, ‘Come up with me to my allotted territory, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I will likewise go with you to your allotted territory.’ And Simeon went with him. Then Judah went up, and the LORD delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand; and they killed ten thousand men at Bezek” (Judges 1:1-4 NKJV).
The tribe of Judah requested the tribe of Simeon to join them to fight the Canaanites and promised to go with them to fight to possess the land apportioned to them. In other words, they wanted a partnership that apparently proved to be very helpful; their partnership gave them victory as the LORD delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand, and they killed ten thousand men at Bezek.
There is strength in partnership. Partnership is one of the ways to achieve success in life though not all partnerships produce positive results. One must prayerfully consider whom one partners with. Moreover, one should be humble enough to request for partnership or assistance as led by the Spirit of the LORD. Don’t let pride make you avoid partnership because you don’t want to share credit for success or victory with another person. This mindset may cost you victory and you’ll bear alone the tragedy of your needless failure or defeat!
You’ll need partnership at one point or the other in your life for one assignment or project. It doesn’t have to last long; it could be for a particular season, assignment, job, or project. It could be a loose arrangement to get something done from time to time or it could be to achieve a milestone or move from a certain level to another in your life, business, ministry, or any organization.
The Gibeonites’ partnership with the Israelites
In Joshua 10:1-11, when the five Amorite kings came against the Gibeonites because of the peace treaty they had signed with the Israelites, the Gibeonites sought for the help of the Israelites to fight their enemy. Although the Israelites only discovered that the Gibeonites had deceived them that they were from a far country after they had signed the treaty, it was binding on the Israelites (Joshua 9:3-27).
Joshua 10:6 says, “And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal, saying, ‘Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us’” (NKJV).
By partnering with the Israelites, the Gibeonites did not only receive human help but God partnered with them through the Israelites by throwing their enemies into confusion and hurling large hailstones on them from the sky. More of the enemies died from hailstones than were killed by the swords of the Israelites (Joshua 10:11).
Peter and his partners
In Luke 5:7, Peter was wise to shout for help from his partners, James and John (verse 10), when his net was so full of fish, the boat was sinking and the net was tearing. That miracle followed Jesus’ use of Peter’s boat as a platform to preach after Peter’s barren night of fishing. His partners brought their boat and offloaded the fish into their boat and the two boats were filled with fish. It was a win-win situation for both Peter and his partners. If Peter had no partners or did not call them, he could have lost his miracle! Most of the fish would have escaped back into the sea since Luke 5:6 says the net had begun to tear because of the volume of fish it caught.
Jesus and His partners
Jesus didn’t do a one-man ministry. Though He ministered to multitudes, He called a set of disciples later known as apostles to walk and work with Him. He invited them to follow Him (Matthew 4:19, 21; 9:9; Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27; John 1:43; ). He prayed and called twelve of them and discipled them with the intent that they would continue His ministry after He had finished His earthly ministry (Matthew 10:1-5; Luke 6:12-16). Without these disciples – His partners – the ministry of Jesus could have died with Him. That would have been a setback for God’s programme on earth. Because only human beings can preach the gospel, angels can’t, God would have had to send another person to raise other people to preach the message of the Kingdom that Jesus preached!
One single person can’t do everything. Two are better than one. “Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. And on a cold night, two under the same blanket can gain warmth from each other. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9 NLT).
Don’t be shy, proud, or selfish to request for partnership or help, but as I’ve said, be led by the Spirit of God because not all help helps ultimately! Leviticus 26:8 says, “Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand! All your enemies will fall beneath the blows of your weapons” (NLT). That is a progression from ratio 1:20 to ratio 1:100! That’s the result effective partnership produces. Together with the right partners, you can achieve great things. But sin could also expose someone to the counter effects of enemy-partnership against one. That’s actually what Deuteronomy 32:30 says: “How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had surrendered them?” (NKJV). Christians often quote this scripture as a positive declaration, but really, in the context in which the Bible used, it is a curse, not a blessing.
The phrase, “unless their Rock had sold them” or forsaken them in that scripture refers to God, the Rock of the Israelites, forsaking them because of their sin. Your Rock shall not forsake you in Jesus’ name. God shall not hand you over to your enemies; your enemies shall not overpower you. Joshua told the Israelites in his welfare address that if they held fast to the LORD their God, “One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, as He promised you” (Joshua 23:10 NKJV). Hold fast to the Lord. Love Him.
Let us look at just three examples of wrong partnerships in the Bible so that we can learn from them and avoid wrong partnerships.
1. Jehoshaphat’s partnership with King Ahab: Jehoshaphat partnered with King Ahab, an evil king, to go to battle against Ramoth-Gilead. Ahab had disguised to the battle while Jehoshaphat was wearing his own royal robes. He was mistaken for Ahab and was almost killed, but he cried to the Lord who helped him and diverted them from him. The Syrians discovered he wasn’t their target. An archer later shot Ahab in the battle leading to his death (2 Chronicles 18:28-34). Don’t go into a partnership without praying about it. Seek God’s approval, so that you don’t go into partnership with someone that God is against.
God rebuked Jehoshaphat upon his safe return to his house in Jerusalem for partnering with Ahab. “And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to King Jehoshaphat, ‘Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Therefore the wrath of the LORD is upon you” (2 Chronicles 19:2 NKJV).
2. Jehoshaphat’s partnership with King Ahaziah: Jehoshaphat again went into another wrong partnership with Ahaziah, son of Ahab, who was also an evil king. This time it was a business partnership to build a fleet of ships to fetch gold from Ophir, as Solomon successfully did (1 Kings 9:26-28). Jehoshaphat’s partnership with Ahaziah was a disaster. Their ships were wrecked in their homeport at Ezion-Geber; they never set sail for trade (2 Chronicles 20:35-37; 1 Kings 22:48).
The destruction of the fleet of ships was because God was against the partnership. Verse 37 says, “But Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, ‘Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah, the LORD has destroyed your works.’ Then the ships were wrecked, so that they were not able to go to Tarshish” (NKJV).
Apparently, Jehoshaphat learnt his lessons after this business disaster and turned down Ahaziah’s proposal for another business partnership. 1 Kings 22:49 says that Ahaziah said to Jehoshaphat, “‘Let my servants go with your servants in the ships.’ But Jehoshaphat would not” (NKJV). Be careful whom you go into partnership with.
3. Solomon’s marriage partnership with foreign women: King Solomon made a treaty with Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and married his daughter (1 Kings 3:1). Not only that, he married many women from heathen nations God had forbidden the Israelites from intermarrying with because they would turn their hearts after their gods (1 Kings 11:2).
What was the effect of this disobedience on Solomon? 1 Kings 11:4-6 says, “For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not fully follow the LORD, as did his father David” (NKJV).
An unequal yoke with an unbeliever is a wrong partnership. Avoid it. “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people’” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16 NKJV).
Benefits of Right Partnership
1. Partnership gives you a company. When you’re in the right partnership, you’re not alone. Loneliness in your Christian walk, family, ministry, business or any other venture in life could be destructive. In Genesis 2:18, God said it is not good for man to be alone, and He made Eve for Adam.
Jesus needed the company of some of His disciples as He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray just as His arrest was near. He took Peter, James, and John along to watch with Him. He continued to pray as He was filled with horror and deep distress but they couldn’t watch with Him even for one hour. They continued to sleep until His betrayer was nearby and He told them it was time to go (Mark 14:32-42). Are you a faithful prayer partner? Can your prayer partner count on your support?
Also, in 2 Timothy 4:16-17, we see the negative effect of loneliness – Paul was alone the first time he was brought before the judge; all men forsook him despite the level and scope of his ministry. But thank God, He strengthened him.
Your partners keep you company through thick and thin, in favourable and unfavourable weather. “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT).
Knowing that you’re not alone, especially while facing a negative situation, has a salutary impact on you. Your partners keep you company, and it is good to know that they’re there with you and for you. No wonder Paul while under house arrest in Rome, writes to Timothy, his partner, “Please come as soon as you can. Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me” (2 Timothy 4:9-11 NLT).
However, it needs to be underscored that it is better to stand alone than be in the wrong company. Zerubbabel rejected wrong partnership in the building of the temple. “Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the descendants of the captivity were building the temple of the LORD God of Israel, they came to Zerubbabel and the heads of the fathers’ houses, and said to them, ‘Let us build with you, for we seek your God as you do; and we have sacrificed to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.’ But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the fathers’ houses of Israel said to them, ‘You may do nothing with us to build a house for our God; but we alone will build to the LORD God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us’” (Ezra 4:1-3 NKJV).
Be spiritually sensitive; don’t make an enemy your partner. Evil company corrupts good habits (1 Corinthians 15:33). Proverbs 12:26 says, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray” (NKJV).
As we have seen before, Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, was a good king, but he went into a business partnership – shipping business – with the king of Israel, Ahaziah, an evil king. “But Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, ‘Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah, the LORD has destroyed your works.’ Then the ships were wrecked, so that they were not able to go to Tarshish” (2 Chronicles 20:37 NKJV). Beware of going into partnership with sinners; the partnership is doomed to fail ultimately.
2. Partnership gives you access to additional resources. These could be physical, spiritual, financial, etc. Nobody has all the resources he needs in life. A partnership can supply what you lack – wisdom, skills, ideas, contacts, and other resources.
As I’ve said, a partnership doesn’t have to be a permanent or long-term arrangement. Standing alone sometimes limits one. In the most effective partnership, one partner can be strong where the other partner (s) is weak; they complement each other. However, never go into partnership with a selfish motive – to use (exploit) your partner. A partnership is supposed to be a win-win arrangement for those involved in the partnership.
3. Partnership gives you encouragement. Everybody needs encouragement in life. Sometimes in life, one could be so challenged that one is tempted to quit. Because one is sharing the burden with others, one could be encouraged to continue. In fact, one’s partner could see more prospects than one and, therefore, encourage one not to give up. It’s been said that if you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far go together.
The benefit of a partnership is that “If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble” (Ecclesiastes 4:10 NLT). Imagine Peter in prison without the church praying for him! While the church was offered constant prayer to God for Peter, he was sleeping in prison bound with two chains between two soldiers and the guards were keeping the door of the keeping the prison (Acts 12:6). Peter couldn’t do anything. Thank God for a praying church – his partners. They faithfully prayed and God sent his angel to set Peter free. It’s important to pray alone, but it is also vital to have someone or people you pray with.
4. Partnership increases productivity. It helps you to achieve more results than you would have achieved alone. As we read earlier in Ecclesiastes 4:9, two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labour. The New Living Translation renders Ecclesiastes 4:9 thus: “Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor.” Of course, this presupposes that you have chosen the right partners, not just anybody.
Partnership allows for shared responsibility and shared decision making among other things which impact positively on productivity. As partners put their various resources together, they are able to go far and achieve more than each of them would have achieved, working alone. This does not happen in all cases. A partnership may not result in increased productivity because of some faults in the partnership. For example, disagreement can decrease productivity or even lead to end of a partnership. The disagreement between Paul and Barnabas ended their partnership “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” (Acts 15:36-41NKJV).
Only God knows the benefits their continued partnership could have brought to the church if both of them had been able to manage their differences over John Mark. Later on in his ministry, Paul, while in prison, needed John Mark, and requested Timothy to bring him for he would be helpful to him. Apparently, Paul and John Mark had reconciled (2 Timothy 4:11). However, the Bible doesn’t record anything about Barnabas, but this doesn’t mean that he didn’t continue in ministry or didn’t do any significant work for God after they parted ways.
Conclusion: Seek God’s face before you go into any partnership. If your partnership is working, know that the devil isn’t happy. He wants to terminate it, and he uses strife most times. Therefore, avoid strife. “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts” (Proverbs 17:14 NKJV). Watch and pray (Matthew 26:41a).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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