When famine struck Armenia during the reign of Maximus, Christians lent assistance to the poor regardless of religious affiliation. Eusebius, the great 4th century ecclesiastical historian, tells us that as a result of the Christian's good example many pagans made inquiry "about a religion whose disciples are capable of such interested devotion." Julian the Apostate, who detested Christianity, complained of Christian kindness toward the poor:
"These impious Galileans not only feed their own poor, but ours also; welcoming them to their agape, they attract them, as children are attracted, with cakes."
The early church institutionalized the care of widows and orphans and saw after the needs of the sick, especially during epidemics. During the pestilences that struck Carthage and Alexandria, Christians earned respect and admiration for the bravery with which they consoled the dying and buried the dead, at a time when the pagans abandoned even their friends to their terrible fate.
The third century bishop and church father Saint Cyprian rebuked the pagan population for not helping the victims of the plague, preferring instead to plunder them. This exhortation of St Cyprian was all the more curious when one considers that this was a time of intermittent persecution of Christians. Meaning the bishop was asking followers to help the very people who had at times persecuted them. "If we are the children of God...let us prove it by our acts, by blessing those who curse us, and doing good to those who persecute us." ...
When we are born, we are self centered narcissists, we believe the world revolves around us. Left to our own devices we will remain that way. Thank God, he has not left us to our own devices.