No matter how you look at it, being a Dad is hard work! Men have this constant balancing act between being tough and being tender. Guys have to have their game face on at work, and their family face on at home. They’ve got to work hard knocking down work competitors, and then work just as hard building up their family members.
But there is one key decision that will determine how successful a man will be at work, at home, in his social circles, and even in his relationship with God.
In Acts 10 we meet a centurion named Cornelius. Centurions were professional military officers in charge of a centuria (usually 100 soldiers). Centurions were always “on the clock,” never letting down their guard nor their professionalism.
All of the centurions mentioned in the New Testament have noble characteristics associated with them. Whereas someone might be uncertain how a typical Roman soldier would behave, people felt more assured when the centurion was on the scene. Even Roman governors like Pilate, and Jewish kings like Herod, all seemed to fully trust the judgement, honesty, and resourcefulness of centurions.
Centurions worked hard to get where they were, and had some well-earned perks:
- Good pay (one built a temple, Luke 7:1-5).
- “Men of authority” with soldiers and servants reporting to them (Matthew 8:8-9).
- Opportunity for advancement (Rome was the dominate world force).
- A certain degree of autonomy (they had their own residences (Matthew 8; Acts 10).
In order to keep this position, they would have to buy into kurios Caesar (Caesar is lord). To do otherwise was to put their position and future advancement at risk.
Yet Cornelius was different.
He was a trusted centurion, but something unusual stood out about his life. Luke the historian describes him as devout and God-fearing, mentioning his pious activities of prayer and giving to the poor. Cornelius’ own soldiers referred to him as righteous and respected by notable people in the community.
But probably most telling of all: God noticed how committed Cornelius was (see Acts 10:3-4)!
Cornelius had a lot to lose by rejecting kurios Caesar for, as the Christians said, kurios Iesous (Jesus is Lord). Yet after carefully weighing his options, he saw that trusting God was the best thing he could do for his family. His view of the eternal outweighed anything that he could gain in the temporal.
This one decision changed everything!
Because Cornelius trusted God, look at the expansiveness of his influence, not only at home, but at work, and among his friends and extended family, and throughout his community:
- His family—ALL his family were devout and God-fearing (v. 2)
- His employees—a devout soldier (v. 7)
- His community—respected by ALL the Jewish people (v. 22)
- His relatives and friends—his relatives and close friends (v. 24)
- In fact everyone around him—we are ALL here in the presence of God (v. 33)
- And most importantly, with God—your prayers and gifts have come up as a memorial offering before God (v. 4)
Fellas, you can have this same level of influence if you, too, will decide to live karios Iesous: Jesus is Lord. If you will do that, you can have said about your life what was said about Cornelius and Jesus: “God anointed ___________ with the Holy Spirit and power, and he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him!” (see Acts 10:38).