By Caleb Faires
I naturally think like a dualist. In my mind, I effortlessly partition off the spiritual things from the practical day-to-day busyness of life. The here and now, the schedules, and the tasks can easily overwhelm my day, crowding out my seemingly less urgent but vitally important spiritual life.
Today’s Scripture describes an intensely practical and urgent matter: the Hellenist widows were being neglected. The dualist in me sees this as an administrative task, needing a real nuts and bolts solution. Surely, the next best step is to look over the resumes and pick the most qualified people to deal with the issue.
But the apostles carefully unfold the criteria: they seek men “of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3). The spiritual health of these men was their first concern. The apostles certainly didn’t overlook natural gifting and skill; we see very clearly that they differentiated between their own calling to serve in preaching and the calling of these men to serve with their hands. But there is no dividing line between the practical things and the spiritual things.
One of these men, Stephen, a man of very practical gifting, proved to be one of the most potent witnesses in the early church. His opposers “could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking” (Acts 6:10). What was the root of his powerful witness? It was not his earthly talents, his intellect, or his cunning. Indeed, we find in this passage echoes of Acts 4:13, where Peter and John, ordinary and unschooled men, nonetheless spoke with power and conviction. The Jewish rulers, we are told, “took note that these men had been with Jesus.” So also, Stephen’s witness was born of his walk with Christ.
Too often, we neglect the weightier matters. We operate by an earthly wisdom, being sure to tidy our workspaces, balance our checkbooks, and organize our tools, long before we get on our knees, open our Bibles, and sit at the feet of Christ. Is it any wonder that our countenance falls? (Gen. 4:6)
The first and most urgent matters are those of the heart. When our hearts are filled with the Spirit, we are then prepared for even the most practical matters.
The content of our hearts shows up in our hands, on our faces, and in our words. Though for a while men may pretend and even deceive many, what is inside always comes out. When Stephen faced his accusers, he did not wilt at their accusations. Rather, the whole assembly could see that his face shone brightly.
May we walk with Christ and be filled with His Spirit, and may His light shine in us, that we may be faithful serve with “great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 3:13).
Written By Caleb Faires