If others described you as being “devout, God-fearing, and scrupulously prayerful,” what might you be seen doing to warrant such a commendable compliment? What things could you do to express these characteristics? But, how does one manifest a “fear of God” to others? God described Cornelius just this way in Acts chapter ten. And yet he was not only a Gentile, but he was also a high-ranking officer in Rome’s army. How did he express his fear?
“That the Gentile chosen by God for such blessings should have been a soldier must be regarded as significant. Ryle noted that ‘In no case is there the slightest hint that the profession of a soldier is unlawful in the sight of God.” -James B. Coffman, Commentary on Acts, ACU Press, p. 197
God sent an angel to instruct Cornelius, and Cornelius “stared at the angel in fear.” He was so frightened that he could have run away. He was a soldier, after all. In the Bible, individuals who seen an angel were so terrified that they would cringe in fear. Likely, they would fall face down, with eyes probably shut. The angel would then say something like, “Get up; don’t be afraid.” That’s because the fear of God is more of a healthy, reverent response, like bowing in humble adoration before a loving heavenly Father. I think the kind of fear it is depends on the contextual setting.
Understanding and accepting a special relationship with the Sovereign God will give us confidence in our abilities to be sharing and caring with those who are in need, to help them…even if they’re so different from ourselves; just like Cornelius, who helped so many others, including Jews! A foreigner, a soldier, and a Gentile! Go figure. God is amazingly good! God wants to share that with us, with others.
-John Driggers (1/29/2024, V6 #5)