Do you ever look at others and feel less-than? Do you perceive others are more valued, useful, and gifted? Do you feel like you get stuck with all the “less impressive” assignments? Do you feel like you are always in the shadows, while others are brightly shining in the spotlight? I think many people struggle with this (even if we hate to admit it)! And when this is our mindset, we are quick to bristle at things like submission and the apostles saying things like, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.” (Acts 6:2).
But let’s call it what it is…pride. It is a posture of self-pity and a desire for self-glorification. I love the example of Stephen in Acts 6 & 7…the picture of a beautiful, faithful, spirit-filled, unafraid and undeterred servant of God. He had the opposite reaction to being a part of this community. He wasn’t in the spotlight. He wasn’t in a leadership position. He was a regular guy; a Greek convert to Christianity. But God was his focus and prize. He joyfully stepped into his new role of service. And wow, was God ever beside him in it.
Rewind a bit…the church is growing like crazy. So fast it can’t keep up with the needs of all the people. Add to it a mix of cultures, backgrounds, languages, and baggage among believers. The Hellenists (Greek converts) believed their widows were being neglected and not treated as equitably as the Hebrew (Jewish) widows. They are feeling divided on racial and cultural lines.
Satan is pulling out all the weapons to stop this new movement he knows will be the end of him. Externally, he is stirring up opposition, intimidation, and outright persecution. But he is working on the inside too, planting seeds of descent and corruption, and working to pit internal groups against one another. Same old tried and true tactics he uses today.
The twelve apostles – the witnesses and primary teachers – can’t do it all. They are spread too thin, and balls are being dropped. The devil would love nothing more than to distract them from their primary calling to share and teach what they have SEEN and been imparted with. It might be tempting to think it would be noble of them to humble themselves to serve the Hellenistic widows, but that is not their calling in this season.
A plan is devised to select seven men to serve in this new role. It isn’t an afterthought, and it isn’t a lesser part. It is so valued and vital to the health of the church at this critical juncture. The requirements for service: good reputation, integrity, honesty, full of the Spirit, and wisdom. Yes, it essential that the Gospel is taught well by the apostles, but this work of serving, loving, caring, providing for the church is beautiful and holy to God.
Instead of taking offense at a serving role, feeling it is below him or not an elevated status enough for his impeccable reputation and spiritual stature, Stephen thrives with his eyes fixed upward. He is filled with grace and power. He does great wonders and signs among the people. And this… “gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.” Oh, to be like Stephen.
In everyone doing their part, the Word spreads, and the church grows exponentially.
No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. When we step into our calling and ordained assignment, instead of coveting someone else’s, the beautiful happens. Our lives are in sync with what we were created to do. It is like a puzzle piece nestled in its created place. There is joy in living in our unique purpose each season. God, let us never look down at any assignment from You. Let us humbly and boldly step into them and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. May we desire expansion of your kingdom over expansion or our status. We love You, and we submit to You. Thank you for the plans You have laid out for us and created us for.
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