He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. ~ Acts 10:2
Describing a very “devout and God fearing” man named Cornelius, this passage offers a very succinct definition of what “devout and God fearing” means: “he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.” (10:2). This pleased God so much that Cornelius’ prayers and gifts “have come up as a memorial offering before God” (10:4) according to the angel that appeared to Cornelius.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Perhaps it does upon the first read, but as I examine my life I realize that, based upon this standard for “devout and God fearing”, I have a lot of growing to do. American society values things and possessions. Our society measures us to a great extent by how much we have, what car we drive, and where we live. To be completely honest, I am a microcosm of American society; I am a consumer of things. I spend most of the money I earn. Based upon my ratio of spending versus giving, I do not give generously; I give a pittance. God has blessed me with much, and I realize that I do not honor Him with those blessings. My prayer is not regular either; it is sporadic and brief. God forgive me and reform me.
Although the passage does not state so, I bet Cornelius’ generosity and prayer life were noticed by those around him and served as a witness to his faith – I say so because God took notice and honored Cornelius for it. Make no mistake: we do not give and we do not pray to elevate ourselves before man; we give and we pray because we know that it pleases the God who loved us so much that He died to pay the penalty for our sins. I’ve got some growing to do. Time to get to work.
Ponder this: What do people see when they see me? Do they see one who is devout and God fearing, or do they see just one of many? More importantly, what does God see when He sees me? Is He pleased or is He saddened?
My prayer for today: Father, give me the wisdom and the wherewithal to be more generous with what I have while meeting the financial obligations I need to meet. Guide and direct my footsteps and grant me the wisdom to lead a devout and God fearing lifestyle – not so that I may be honored, Lord, but so that You would be glorified. In Jesus’ name – AMEN.