Stephen started out helping to feed widows, but he didn’t stop there. When given the opportunity, Stephen faithfully witnessed about his faith to those with whom he came in contact. Acts 6:9-10 tell us, “But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen.But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.” There were many Jews from many nations living in Jerusalem at that time. Some, like the Freedmen, had their own synagogue of worship. The Freedmen were descendants of Jews who won their freedom from the Romans. They evidently disagreed with the witness and gospel Stephen believed. What’s amazing to me is this whole group tried to argue with Stephen, but he was wiser, more full of the Spirit, and more well-versed than all of them combined! Stephen shows us that deacons must, “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).
Stephen just didn’t win debates. He was more than an intellectual apologist. He was a faithful witness to his last breath! He loved the Lord so much, not only did he grow in his abilities to communicate what he believed; he was willing to give his life for Jesus and the gospel! When they couldn’t out talk him, they decided to lie and frame him (Acts 6:11-14), much like they did Jesus (Matthew 24:57-60). This deacon was now also an evangelist and would soon be a martyr. When they arrested him, Stephen didn’t even have to speak about Jesus – his face shined bright as a glowing witness for Christ. Now that’s a deacon on fire for Jesus! His witness would not only be to the Jews, but his martyred blood would be the fuel for those after him to take the gospel to the Samaritans and the Gentiles. Stephen’s faithful witness for Jesus would start the spread of the gospel to the world!
What about you? Are your testimonies about Jesus so convincing and powerful that no one can dispute them? Are you so passionate about Jesus that even your countenance glows bright with a love for the Savior? Do you share the testimonies of Jesus’ impact on your life as a faithful witness with hopes of advancing the gospel to the world? These are marks of a deacon and should be present in our lives.