Many great things could be said about the apostle Paul, but one of the most notable to me is his thoughtfulness toward others. He refused to leave others out of the picture. He ministered to them and he mentioned them. It is obvious that other were important to Paul. And they should be important to us. But, sadly, not everyone gets the attention they need. J. R. Miller wrote:
There really is no higher attainment in life—than that of being a blessing to others in one’s own place. Every noble-spirited young person is ambitious to live well and helpfully, to do something worth while. But not all the really heroic things bring fame in this world. One may be a hero in God’s sight—and yet never hear a hurrah from any human lips.
When the country needed defenders, one boy entered the service, fought bravely, rose to honor, and returned, when the war was over, with high rank. He was greeted as a hero. His younger brother had stayed at home caring for his widowed mother and the little children—only a common farmer, without fame. But with God he was no less a hero than the other.—-
In one of his epistles, Paul speaks of certain of his friends as “men that have been a comfort unto me.” He was in prison, and in his loneliness these men had cheered and strengthened him. They had been kind to him, and their kindness had comforted him.—-The friends that Paul names were a comfort to him, because they sympathized with him with a sympathy that was not obtrusive, not officious, not always reminding him of his chain and prison—but that manifested itself in quiet, unostentatious, inspiring ways. The word comfort is from a root-word which means to strengthen. It is like our noun cordial, in its old sense, something that invigorates, exhilarates; something that stimulates the circulation, making the pulses quicker, the life fuller. Paul’s friends were a cordial to him, not lessening his sufferings nor lightening his burdens—but making him braver and stronger for endurance. They were a comfort to him.
Paul himself was a wonderful example of a man who was a comfort to others. What his life, with its rich fullness and its genius for friendship, must have been to those who came into personal companionship with him! What a privilege it was to his fellow-craftsmen to have him working with them at their tent-making! His presence must have made the work seem lighter and the atmosphere of the shop brighter. We do not begin to realize what it means to us—to live with certain people, to have them for friends, to drink from the fullness of their life.
One wrote of Phillips Brooks, after his death: “We did not know how much of God was walking with us!” Just so, men did not know how much of God was walking with them—when they had Paul for their companion, friend, teacher. The more closely we study his life and his words—the more do we find in him and in his teachings of love, of the delicate refinements of love, of all gentleness and kindness. The thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians is as matchless as a picture. It is like a dream in its beauty. But it was a dream which was realized in the writer’s own life. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.” Some people praise this wonderful picture of love—but do not think of living it. What a comfort we would be to each other—if we really lived in all our common days, the teaching of this great chapter!