The Cloud of Witnesses
Former title Lessons From the People of the Bible
Lesson 1: Stephen – A Man Full Of The Spirit And Wisdom
A Man Full Of The Spirit And Wisdom
The Church is not perfect. In fact, you will never find the perfect church. The church is made up of imperfect people. In fact, a real church will have a lot of people within its congregation who are trying to find their way to the truth about life and God. Not only is it true that Christians are not perfect – just forgiven – in these real churches there will be people who are not Christians yet. They feel welcome there however, and over time will process the truth and accept the truth. In the meantime, they will often display their imperfections!
The Church in Jerusalem was made up of people with a Judean background and others with a Hellenistic Greek background, and because of the differences in culture, it was perceived that favouritism was taking place. The Jewish widows were given precedence over the Hellenistic Greek widows.
Quite correctly, the apostles decided that the issue needed dealing with in an appropriate way and so asked the rest of the disciples to choose 7 men to look after the details. I like their character requirements. Choose those who are known to be full of the spirit and wisdom. Don’t go for the materialistic people. Don’t go for the accountants and financial planners. Don’t go for the business executives or P/R gurus. Find those who are already known to be full of the spirit and wisdom.
God’s Kingdom operates on different lines to this world, and what may be acceptable in society may not necessarily be appropriate for the work of the Kingdom of God. We need to find people full of the Holy Spirit to be on the ministry teams. Don’t just go to fill ‘holes’ of need. Find the ‘right’ people.
That is why it is so helpful in churches to find out what the Spiritual Gifts are of the folk in our congregations so we can release them into the ministry God has designed for them. We also need to be wise in our choice of people. We need to make sure they are of proven integrity and spiritual discernment. Wise, rather than arrogant. How many ‘problems’ in our churches would have been avoided if we had ‘done our homework’ before appointing inappropriately.
Stephen would say to us today...
Stop – before you appoint anyone to fill any role within the church – do your homework and make sure that their spiritual qualifications are as good as their natural talents and work-related experience. The Kingdom of God deserves as much excellence in the spiritual side of ministry – spiritual discernment and wisdom – as it does in excellence of ability.
Father, please help us to fill those roles needing extra personnel with the right people. Help us also discern those who are full of the spirit and wisdom so that our ministries may flourish as well as the Church in Jerusalem after having appointed Stephen and his colleagues.
Exodus 31:1-11; Isaiah 61:1-7; Matthew 2:25-40.
Why do we rush to fill the ministry gaps we find?
How much more could we achieve if we thought through our people choices more thoroughly?
Why is being full of the spirit and wisdom vital?