The litmus test of a person, his character, and his life is measured by carefully and thoughtfully examining what he does (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46-49). Few things are more illustrative of this truth than a thorough examination of a project the apostle Paul worked on for several years of his life and involved a sizable amount of money.
After making an analysis of Paul and the Great Collection, one writer concluded—There is no nobler example of disinterested benevolence in history. Except for the false accusations, constant character assassination, and a bogus arrest in Jerusalem, Paul profited nothing from it. We, however, can profit much by considering the heart and soul of this one who spearheaded this monumental effort and saw it through to its completion.
Paul was a man of integrity. He gave his word to Peter, James, and John that he would remember the poor among the Jews while in Jerusalem (Galatians 2:9-10) between his first and second church-planting journeys (Acts 15), and he kept it. Despite the passage of time and the trials such an endeavor generated for him, he was impervious to what it cost him personally. This is the granite-like integrity righteous people in fellowship with God have when they give their word (Psalm 15:1, 4).
Paul was a man of wisdom. Kindness destroys barriers faster and more efficiently than conflict and bitterness do. Prior to the gospel, the Jews and Gentiles were alienated from one another religiously, socially, and ethnically. God’s plan was to reconcile them to Him and one another in one body by the cross (Ephesians 2:16). In practical terms, few things combat the horrific evils of prejudice, pride, and alienation better than kindness (Romans 12:20-21). Paul’s wisdom is not seen in simply noting he knew what the remedy was; it shines brightest by observing his diligence in doing the wise thing.
Paul fervently loved his brethren and kinsmen. His immense and intense love for his kinsmen in the flesh is declared in Romans 9:2-3 with these stunning words: “I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” It is morally impossible for Paul to be accursed for his brethren; however, it was possible for him to tirelessly teach them the gospel of the One who was accursed for them (cf. Galatians 3:13) and do all within his power to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction. Like Mary (Mark 14:8), Paul did what he could.