BE CAREFUL AND BE AWARE OF TROUBLEMAKERS IN YOUR LIFE
“Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 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. 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.” (Acts 6:8—15)
Stephen was chosen to be a leader of the ones who tend the table so the apostles can devote themselves and give attention to prayers and the ministry of God’s word. Stephen did not have a resume that would qualify him to run the food tables, but he had something that was more than a resume. In ministry, a resume would help, but it is not a requirement. Stephen was chosen for these characteristics. Stephen was chosen with seven others when the disciples noticed they were First full of the Spirit. Secondly, they were full of wisdom.
It is not what is on the piece of paper that qualifies someone to be a servant of God. What really counts in ministry is that individuals are full of the Spirit of God and are full of his wisdom as well.
But in ministry, though you are full of the Spirit and his wisdom, oppositions still find ways to render you ineffective. Ministry is always full of challenges and opposition if you are a leader. If you are a pastor or a leader in ministry or even in a leadership position, there are things that we must be aware of about those who oppose us.
First, we must understand the nature of opposition. People oppose when there is a problem. People oppose when they feel like they are not being heard. People oppose when they can’t have it their way. There are legitimate reasons to oppose something and how one decides to resolve any issues.
But those who oppose people in leadership can often resort to evil tactics. Stephen faced opposition based on falsehood. An interesting note on the opposition: it didn’t come from the Hellenistic Jews but came from the Synagogue of the Freedmen. Sometimes, opposition may not come directly from those who started it but from others who were not a part of the earlier problem.
Some people who do oppose are real troublemakers. Opposition, by definition, is those who oppose something or stand against something.
- Opposition tends to engage in argument.
- Opposition often works behind the scenes, in secret meetings, to persuade others to join their cause.
- Opposition often stirred things up.
- Opposition often produces false witnesses.
I learned today always to discern the spirit of those who engaged in opposing something they disagree with. The accusation Synagogue of Freedmen brought was intended to damage Stephen as much as possible. It was intended to destroy Stephen. The Sanhedrin saw something different about Stephen. All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.”
It is interesting to see that the Sanhedrin saw something very different from what the accusers were saying about Stephen. The Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel. It is always good to discern between accusation and firsthand observation. We should never jump to conclusions without seeing a matter with our own eyes.
I learned to be careful not to accept people’s accusations about others they disagree with. We can destroy lives just because of manufactured and made-up accusations from others about someone. I want to be able to do what the Sanhedrin did by looking intently at the issues and arriving at my own uncoerced conclusion and opinion.
Jesus, I ask for eyes to see situations clearly instead of listening to the voices of accusers opposing issues that lead to damaging other people’s lives. Please teach me to discern the spirits of accusers and opposers of your truth. Please help me never to accuse anyone or oppose anyone with the thought to destroy them. Help me to see your truth clearly, and please help me to be someone who values the lives of others. Amen!