John_ChrysostomSt Paul thought it no great thing to die for the Gospel’s sake, unless he should do this to great advantage.

He was even willing not to see Christ, Whom most of all he longed to see, while the work of his stewardship among men was not yet complete (Phil. 1:23, 24).

Such ought to be the soul of a Christian.

From his first appearance from the very outset, the character of Paul declared itself.

Even before this, even in the things which he did “not according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2), it was not by man’s reasoning that he was moved to act as he did.

For if, so long afterwards, he was content not to depart, much more at the beginning of his trading voyage, when he had but just left the harbour!

Many things Christ leaves to be done by ordinary human wisdom, that we may learn that his disciples were men, that it was not all everywhere to be done by grace.

For otherwise they would have been mere motionless logs. But in many things they managed matters themselves.

This is not less than martyrdom—to shrink from no suffering for the sake of the salvation of the many. Nothing so delights God.

Again will I repeat what I have often said. And I repeat it, because I do exceedingly desire it, as Christ also did the same, when discoursing concerning forgiveness: “when ye pray, forgive if ye have aught against any man” (Mark 11:25).

Likewise He said to Peter: “I say not unto thee, Forgive until seven times, but until seventy-times seven” (Matt. 18:22). And He Himself in fact forgives the transgressions against Him.

So also we continually discourse about this because we know that this is the very goal of Christianity. Nothing is more frigid than a Christian, who cares not for the salvation of others.

You cannot here plead poverty, for she that cast down the two mites shall be your accuser (Luke 21:11). And Peter said, “silver and gold have I none” (Acts 3:6). And Paul was so poor, that he was often hungered, and wanted necessary food.

You cannot plead lowness of birth, for they too were ignoble men, and of ignoble parents. You cannot allege want of education, for they too were “unlearned men” (Acts 4:13).

[…] You cannot plead infirmity, for such was Timothy, having often infirmities; for, says the apostle, “use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake, and thy frequent infirmities” (1 Tim. 5:23). Every one can profit his neighbour, if he will fulfil his part.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homilies on the Book of Acts, 15 (on Acts 9:10-12) [slightly adapted].

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