Everything is Sacred
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.
There was a complaint to the management about food.
2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
Is there a difference between sacred vs. secular?
Many employees with strong religious convictions find themselves living in two separate worlds: the sacred private world of family and church where they can express their faith freely and the secular public world where religious expression is strongly discouraged.
Either everything is secular or everything is sacred.
For a non-Christian, nothing is sacred. There is no righteousness at all.
“…and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”
1. A Christian sees everything as sacred.
Listen to how Brother Lawrence describes his life with God.
“He does not ask much of us, merely a thought of Him from time to time, a little act of adoration, sometimes to ask for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, at other times to thank Him for the graces, past and present, He has bestowed on you, in the midst of your troubles to take solace in Him as often as you can. Lift up your heart to Him during your meals and in company; the least little remembrance will always be the most pleasing to Him. One need not cry out very loudly; He is nearer to us than we think.”
― Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God
Are some gifts sacred and some secular? More or less spiritual?
Paul tells us that in the body of Christ, there are many parts.
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;
7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Example: Pick someone and affirm their spiritual gifts.
Reliance on “spiritual gifting” is a mistake.
2. True increase comes from godly character.
“…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
Everyone knew their place. Content with the gifts God had given.
7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. 8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.
Steven had more than the gift of service… at least ‘great wonders and signs’.
9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.
Apparently Steven also had, the gift of wisdom.
Example: Bob asking for the wisdom of Jesus when we are working.
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
Wisdom of God - good deeds done in humility (thinking of others before self)
Wisdom of man - envy and selfish ambition (self-first)
“Humility before God is nothing if not proved in humility before men.”
~ Andrew Murray
3. Wisdom from God must manifest in humility.
“We may find that professors and ministers, evangelists and workers, missionaries and teachers, in whom the gifts of the Spirit are many and manifest, and who are the channels of blessing to multitudes, but of whom, when the testing times comes, or closer intercourse gives fuller knowledge, it is only too painfully manifest that the grace of humility, as an abiding characteristic, is scarce to be seen.”
~ Andrew Murray
This was no truer a statement than in those leaders who mounted the attack against Steven.
The wisdom of God brought opposition to Steven.
11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”
12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin.
13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
4. Courage comes from godly character.
Who doesn’t want to be a more confident, unshakable, unsinkable?
The enemy attacks weakness and sin in the form of pride makes it easy…
We will see how next week Steven acts in faith and courage in the face of opposition from sinful men.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.