May 12

Bible Reading: Acts 6

Acts 6:3, “Pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.”

The church leadership was approached by a man who wanted to serve as a deacon. He was ready and able to serve; he boasted. At the time of his request, the church was meeting in a rented facility. Every Sunday morning, there was the need to set up chairs and then put them away afterwards. But the problem was the would-be deacon had never once offered any help! Leadership understandably denied the man’s request, explaining that he wasn’t ready to be a deacon. Our text speaks of a group of men who were, on the other hand, ready to serve!

The early church was characterized by its eagerness to show loving concern for the needs of others (Acts 2:44-45, 4:34-35).  The church was, accordingly, caring for its widows by providing meals for them.  In this matter, “a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution” (Acts 6:1).  The twelve Apostles, wanting to give attention to the “preaching of the word,” wisely purposed to delegate others to oversee the matter (Acts 6:2, 4).

They brought the matter to the congregation and said, “Pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty” (Acts 6:3).  The task demanded oversight by well-qualified men.  Left unresolved or mismanaged, the situation might easily have given rise to division and dissension, thereby threatening to undermine the spiritual health and growth of the church.

The men to be selected were to be men of “good repute, full of the Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:3).  The term “repute” translates the verb form of the Greek “martureo,” (i.e., witness).  They were to be people that were maintaining a good and credible “witness” before others.  The same term is used (in its noun form) in referring to the qualifications of an elder (1 Timothy 3:7, “He must be well thought of by outsiders”).  The men chosen were to be men that others could and would vouch for.

They were also to be men “full of the Spirit and of wisdom.”  We are commanded to be “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).  The Spirit’s presence is revealed in glorious Christ-like virtues (Galatians 5:22-23), of which Christ-like, sacrificial love, is the main component (Galatians 5:22; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7).  The “full of the Spirit” person is distinguished by his love for Jesus and love for others.  To be full of the Spirit is to be full of wisdom (Ephesians 5:15-17).  The Spirit imparts wisdom, that practical knowledge which equips a person to make wise decisions.

The congregation was given the task of selecting seven men, and apparently, they had little difficulty in doing so.  They chose “Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte of Antioch” (Acts 6:5).  We are given no other information— in the immediate context—regarding their backgrounds, resumes, accomplishments, or experience.  They were not chosen because of their connections, popularity, or business acumen.  It was enough that they were of good reputation and filled with the Spirit.

The soon-to-be martyred Stephen fulfilled that role and others, too.  He was not only “full of the Spirit and of wisdom,” (Acts 6:3) he was “full of faith” (Acts 6:5) and “full of grace and power” (Acts 6:8).  He was full of the Spirit and was “doing great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8).  That later proved problematic for him, but that’s another chapter.

What lesson can we garner from this episode in church history?  An effective servant is not so because of his own qualifications or ability, but his availability to be used by the Spirit of God.  Stephen was “full of it” in the positive sense.  Being full of the Holy Spirit, he was well-qualified and equipped to serve God in various ways.  He was open to the Spirit’s leading and empowered to do things that he could have never done otherwise.  “To be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18-20; Colossians 3:16-17) is a matter of preeminent relevance to any would-be servant of Christ.  By this means alone, are we made ready to serve in whatever way, and to whatever task, God calls us.

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much’.” – Matthew 25:21

Make me a servant
Humble and meek
Lord, let me lift up
Those who are weak
And may the prayer
Of my heart always be
Make me a servant
Make me a servant
Make me a servant today

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain, preaching on occasion, and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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