The example of the paralytic sufficiently reveals that God wanted this paralyzed man to do everything he was capable of first, so that He may subsequently grant him forgiveness of sins and physical health. If you search the Holy Scriptures, you will find numerous examples confirming this very same thing.
Amongst the many examples, however, one substantiates the truth of the matter so clearly, that it completely convinces man and casts away even the slightest doubt from his mind. When the ruler Festus handed over the Apostle Paul as a prisoner unto Julius the centurion, in order to be taken securely from Caessaria to Rome to stand trial before Caesar, a storm developed at sea. Such a dark and turbulent tempest arose that everyone on the ship lost hope and ate nothing for several days.
At that time, the Apostle Paul stood up before everyone, encouraging and advising them that none of them would drown at sea: "And now I exhort you to be of good cheer. For there shall be no loss of any man's life from among you, except for the ship" (Acts 27:22) .
The divine apostle affirmed his words by testifying that an angel of God appeared to him that night and revealed to him that he would stand before Caesar, and that God granted him everyone sailing on the ship with him: "For there stood by me this night an angel of God, Whose I am, and Whom I serve, saying, 'Fear not, Paul. You must be brought before Caesar. And, lo, God has given you all the people who are sailing with you'" (Acts 27:23 - 24) .
This is why he urged everyone to take courage: "Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer. For I believe God, that it shall be just as it has been told to me. We must be cast upon a certain island" (Acts 27:25 - 26) .
A few days later, the sailors discerned land in the distance, and desiring to save themselves from the danger, they lowered the life boats into the ocean inorder to leave the ship. When Paul saw realized what they were about to do, he immediately said to the centurion and his soldiers, "If they do not remain in the ship, you cannot be saved" (Acts 27:31) .
How strange indeed! God told the Apostle Paul that He would grant him every single passenger sailing with him, and He promised that not even one of them would be lost. The Apostle Paul believed God's promise: "I believe," he stated, "in God that this is how things will turn out, exactly in the manner they were said to me."
Not only did he believe in God's promise but he also proclaimed the Lord's pledge before everyone on the ship, who altogether were "two - hundred and seventy six souls" (Acts 27:37) . And yet, after all this he hinges the salvation of all those people not upon the things that God had said and promised but upon the help and aid of the sailors. He stated that if there was no help from the sailors, if the crew members flee and abandon the ship, it would not be possible for them to be saved: "If they do not remain in the ship, you cannot be saved" (Acts 27:31) .
Was the Almighty God in need of help from thirty or forty sailors in order for Him to keep everyone on that ship alive? It is both unreasonable and improper to make such a claim about God. Through this example, my brothers, God revealed to us nothing other than what He also communicated to us when He healed the paralytic: that He stretches out His almighty hand to help and save us only if we first carry out everything that we are capable of doing.
by Bishop Nikiforos Theotokis