Many think morality will save them. But, we read of the good man, Cornelius, who was morally good, but he was not a Christian and therefore, not saved. Cornelius was a Roman centurion of Caesarea in Palestine and one of the class of Gentiles known as “God fearers” because of their attachment to Jewish religious practices, such as almsgiving and prayer. In Acts 10, we read of this man who was the first Gentile to convert to Christianity. But as we read of how he and his household and friends all listened to Peter’s preaching, we ought to ask ourselves, how do our lives compare to the life of Cornelius? How do our deeds, prayer life, and attitude compare to his?
For example, Cornelius was a devout man meaning that, he was a dedicated man. He knew what he stood for and therefore, he did not fall for everything. Yet, are we wholly dedicated and consecrated to the cause of Christ? Solomon once wrote, “There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it: Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.” (Eccl. 9:14-15). The righteous need not be concerned over their good deeds being forgotten, for while man may take little notice, God is sure to remember (Heb. 6:10). But, do we present our bodies a living sacrifice and do we make and keep them holy and acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1)?
Cornelius also was a God-fearing man. But, do we fear God like Cornelius? Now, we should not fear Him with a cringing, slavish fear, but with a fear mingled with awe and profound respect. The Hebrew writer said, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:” (Heb. 12:28). This fear is a fear that trembles at the thought of offending a just and holy God. To "fear God and keep His commandments is the whole duty of man (Eccl. 12:13-14) and to "fear God and work righteousness" is the same thing (Acts 10:34-35; Psa. 119:172). But, are we as Cornelius–God fearing?
Cornelius was a good influence in his home. It says that he feared God with all of his house. He was a lot like Joshua choosing for him and his household to serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15). Now, not every Christian could say this. But, if we are dedicated to the Lord and if we are God fearing, we ought to have a good influence over our families. And, having our homes filled with good influences for the Lord, we become more like Cornelius in our faith by which, we will also become more like Cornelius in our giving for he was a very generous man who gave much alms to the people. And, then our homes should be seen as a prayerful home, offering our hearts before God as Cornelius did.
Cornelius was indeed a good man. He is a man that we can learn a great deal about. But, listen to what Christ said in Matt. 5:47, “. . . what do ye more than others? . . .” What do we do more than Cornelius? You know, he did all this and was not even saved yet. Christians should do more; we should show that we have a different spirit and we should have a genuine love of God and truth which is accompanied by love for all men and not just a select circle of friends. We should show like Peter learned here that religion is not selfish, and is superior to all other principles of action. Let us therefore, be like Cornelius, but, let us also be greater than he as Christians.