Daily Thought for: 7th November
Acts 11. 25-30; 13. 1-4; 15. 37-39; Galatians 2. 11-13
Barnabas was self-effacing. He was being greatly used in Antioch. However,
he was humble enough a man spiritually to realise that he could not handle
all the needs of a growing church himself. He had the discernment to see
that help in teaching was needed and he realised that the man for the task
was Saul of Tarsus. Barnabas was not hindered by the thought that Saul
might come to eclipse him. With the benefit of the work in mind, he set
off to Tarsus to find Saul and bring him back to be his colleague. Together
they laboured in Antioch teaching the word, and their ministry was blessed.
It produced Christ-likeness so that the name Christian was first used in
Barnabas was responsive, also, to Gods call to missionary service. The Holy Spirit made it clear in Antioch that Barnabas and Saul had been set apart by Him for this task. There is no hint of any reluctance from Barnabas for he did not argue that he was already very useful where he was. The church identified itself with the Spirits call and let the missionaries go in the first recorded commendation meeting. Yet the Spirit was the divine Sender in the great advance from Antioch, a major step in taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. So Barnabas with Saul went to spread the word in Cyprus and South Galatia. They faced opposition and danger, risking their lives for the Lord Jesus. Yet the message of Christ came to the Gentiles and many were saved. New churches were planted in pagan territory.
Sadly, Barnabas vacillated in an hour of spiritual crisis. On the return of the missionaries to Antioch, strict Jewish Christians arrived there and pressurised Peter and other Jewish believers to eat separately from Gentile Christians. Paul saw this as play-acting, contrary to their true convictions and an attack on the one way of salvation by grace. With pain and surprise, Paul records that even Barnabas was carried away by this pressure. On this occasion Barnabas did not stand firm for the gospel. This probably made the later contention with Paul over John Mark as sharp as it became. It demonstrates that the best of men are men at the best.