Acts 10:2 Cornelius and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.
I think when I get to heaven, I’d like to meet Cornelius. His story fascinates me and I love the fact that God uses him as a vehicle to spread the Christian faith throughout the mighty Roman militia. He is chosen by God because of his faithfulness and generosity. He walks the talk and makes himself not only acceptable to the Jews around him, but more importantly to God Himself.
In the scripture we are told that Cornelius is a centurion in the Italian regiment. That means that he is an officer in one of Caesar’s finest troops. His loyalty to the Emperor must have been strong, and yet he is also a follower of the God of the Jews.
I like the fact that God is willing to use an outsider like Cornelius to accomplish an important part of Christ’s ministry. God is favoring the centurion because of his devotion and charitable contributions. Cornelius just isn’t a person who says he believes; he puts his faith into practice by giving to and providing for the poor in his community. Usually, a Roman centurion couldn’t care less about the Jews or those living in poverty. Cornelius is an exception to the rule and because of this, God uses him in an extraordinary way.
I think what the passage is teaching us is this: Cornelius was a Christian even before he knew about Christ. His devotion to God, regular praying, and giving to the poor were very Christ-like. He was an honest soldier with noble characteristics. He was a man of God who would soon become a servant of God’s Son. Cornelius provides for all of us a trustworthy example of a faithful devotee of God.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we thank You for people like Cornelius, whose lives are filled with faith and honesty, loyalty and charity, commitment and compassion. Help us to receive his example of faith with love and grace. Empower and enable us to try to do much of the same. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.