After Pentecost, the early Church was rapidly growing, and some of its new members, specifically the widows, were being neglected in the daily distribution. The twelve apostles were unable to minister to the entire Church and preach the gospel, so they asked their disciples to find seven men to take on this task.
These seven men were not just chosen to lead by example but were chosen to remind the early Church of the importance of having true men of God lead.
Here is where we meet the first deacon and martyr Stephen.
Stephen’s life embodied true manhood. Even though he is only mentioned in Acts 6, 7, 8, 11, and 22, we could produce a long list of characteristics that Stephen embodied that made him a real man, but two noteworthy traits are being full of the Holy Spirit and courage.
As we see in Acts 6:3, Stephen was chosen because he was a man of “good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.”
A man full of the Holy Spirit is a man that constantly walks with God, a man who has developed a close and personal relationship with his Savior. After baptism and chrismation, every believer receives the Holy Spirit, but what’s critical is whether we allow the Holy Spirit to fill us. This only happens when we develop a relationship with God. The Holy Spirit is ready to act, to consume us, to overflow within our hearts, but only if we allow Him to transform us.
Once we allow Him to work in our lives, we see the fruit of the Holy Spirit manifested within us. Stephen was ordained to serve at the daily distribution, but because he walked with God every day he became a man, “full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.” (Acts 6:8)
To be filled with the Holy Spirit means to be filled with God. This is the first step to fulfill our purpose and live as God intended.
Of course, opposition to Stephen among the Jews quickly began to grow, and he was seized and brought in front of a council to stand trial. Here is where we see Stephen’s boldness and courage, “for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Stephen gave a 52-verse sermon with the purpose of not defending himself but proclaiming the truth about Jesus, even if that meant death for himself. That is the courage we are called to have as men, courage to stand for the truth no matter the cost. Courage that cost him his life but gained him eternal paradise.
We are called to have the courage to love God, our wife, children, parents, siblings, neighbors and even strangers. We are called to have courage to follow the will of God, even when it’s costly.
Stephen’s ministry began by serving during the daily distribution, but God had a greater call for him, which he gladly accepted. Likewise, God has a greater call for each man, but to be ready for that calling we must be full of the Holy Spirit and have the courage to answer it.