Affection and Consecration

Paul, active in love, his work accomplished for the moment at Antioch, turns towards the gatherings he had founded, desiring to know how it fared with them. But now Barnabas, like Peter before him, disappears from the scene. Not that he no longer worked for the Lord, but he did not maintain himself at the same level of service of Paul. Eclipsed in the work when with him, now he disappears altogether. A good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith, he was yet not detached from everything as was Paul, for whom, according to his call on the way to Damascus, Christ glorified and His own was all in all.
This remarkable servant of God knew no longer anything after the flesh—a consecration necessary to the founder of the church of God. He had given up Judaism that he might become a minister of the economy of the church. (See 1 Cor. 3:1010According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. (1 Corinthians 3:10); Eph. 1; 2 Col. 1:23-2523If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; 24Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church: 25Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; (Colossians 1:23‑25).) This economy had always existed in the counsels of God, but after the delay granted by His patience till the preceding mission of Paul from Antioch, which mission was then only put into execution, it is put on its true footing on account of the attachment of Barnabas to things which were only objects of natural affection. John Mark was the cousin of Barnabas, and the island of Cyprus his native country. (Col. 4:1010Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;) (Colossians 4:10); Acts 4:3636And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, (Acts 4:36).)
Barnabas was quite disposed to accompany Paul in his journey, but he wished to take Mark with him; this, however, was displeasing to Paul, for Mark had left them in the preceding journey at Perga. He had not courage sufficient to confront the difficulties of the work outside of Cyprus. Paul only thought of God, Mark of the circumstances; but it is not thus that difficulties are to be overcome. It is possible that the flesh may have manifested itself in Paul; but at all events he could not boast of being in the right. Paul did not think of the economy entrusted to him, but of what according to faith suited the work—the principle of life and heart necessary to accomplish it. He did not know the results, but what was necessary to produce them. Separation was necessary, and that God had wrought out in him. Still acerbity was unnecessary. At the bottom Paul was right, and the hand of God was with him. Even where the purpose of the heart is just, the flesh may very soon manifest itself.
Barnabas separates himself, and sets out for Cyprus, his country, taking Mark, his cousin, for the work of the Lord, but no longer the companion of Paul in the work to which God had called him. We do not forget the real worth of Barnabas, a true servant of Jesus, to whom the Holy Ghost Himself has borne witness; only he was not suited to that work. We learn ourselves that a heart consecrated to the Lord, without other attachment, separated from everything, is alone suited to represent Christ in a ministry such as that of Paul, and indeed in every true ministry.
Affection is good, but it is not consecration. Woe to us if we have not natural affection—it is a sign of the last times (2 Tim. 3:88Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. (2 Timothy 3:8)); but these are not suited to such a work, a work which demands that one should not know anything after the flesh. Natural affection is not the “new creation,” though fully recognized by God in Christ Himself, when He was not in the work; neither is natural affection the power of the Holy Ghost, which alone produces the effects of grace in the work of God.
Barnabas then goes his way; such was his will. Paul chooses Silas, and is recommended by the brethren to the grace of God—a second ordination if it were a question of that, but it is quite another thing. And he went through Syria and Cilicia confirming the churches. Remark here that many had been formed where the apostle had not before been, as he found the first time he passed through the island of Cyprus.