April 1, 2001
Empowered to Serve
Acts 6:1--8:3

KEY VERSE: The word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. -- Acts 6:7

It will help us all to understand that there are no small jobs in the kingdom of God. In the eyes of God what matters is faithfulness and the spirit in which we put our shoulders to the wheel, no matter what task we are assigned. Serving tables in the name of Christ is just as honorable as praying or teaching.

As the young church began to grow, there was a need for a division of labor. Stephen was among those chosen to serve, so that others could focus their full attention on prayer and "the ministry of the word." Observe why Stephen was selected -- because he was "full of faith and of the Holy Spirit." Not a bad plan! When church leaders are chosen for wrong reasons, we often wind up with people who are full of hot air. We need men and women of faith and spiritual power!

Again observe not only what people are, but what they see. Jewish leaders saw a good man whom they chose to condemn. They saw an object of criticism and ridicule. But Stephen saw the heavens opened and the Lord Jesus "standing on the right hand of God." Our churches need leaders with vision like Stephen, who saw the mighty hand of God at work and was willing to sacrifice his own life for the cause of Christ. Leaders who seek to control the church for their own purposes prevent their churches from growing.

The bottom line is that Stephen was a worthy role model while the angry Jewish leaders were not. Paul became ashamed of "standing by" as Stephen was stoned, and the serene spirit in which Stephen met his death was an example Paul never forgot. It may well have influenced Paul to surrender his own life to Christ later on.

The good news is that someone observing your life may be persuaded by your faith and faithfulness to trust Christ. The hope of being such a worthy role model is a noble reason to render faithful service to Christ in whatever task is yours. So shirk no task, no matter how small, which permits you to serve others, for in so doing, you are serving the Master!