When You Speak Truth Expect Opposition
Acts chapter 6 begins with the selection of seven men who were “full of the Spirit and of wisdom.” One of those men was Stephen. He was described as a man “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.” The seven were assigned to oversee the ministry to the widows. This doesn’t seem to be the ministry to assign to someone of Stephen’s caliber. But Stephen understood the principle found in James 1:27, which says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
What I especially admire about Stephen is that he was not satisfied with only caring for his number one task. In Acts verses 8-15 it goes on to describe Stephen as a man full of grace and power. He was doing great wonders in public. Others attempted to argue against what he was saying but it was a losing battle. His speaking was full of wisdom and he, by his opponent’s testimony, just couldn’t stop talking about their enemy, Jesus of Nazareth. Here is that portion:
“And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. Then they secretly instigated men who said, ‘We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.’ And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and they set up false witnesses who said, ‘This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.’ And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.”
It should not be surprising if you face opposition when you seek to share the truth. The tactics of the opposition really have not changed that much. We seen evidence of this in current events and almost daily in various news items. Your words will be twisted or taken out of context. You will face charges that are not based on what happened or what you said. People in general will assume the worst about you.
Don’t let that stop you from proclaiming truth, especially the truth of the gospel. The reason is quite simple. There really is no other place for God’s gift of salvation, rescue and rest for the sin-saturated soul. Peter said it this way in his sermon from Acts chapter 4: “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (4:11-12)
Stephen understood the need of the widows and he did something about it. But he also the everlasting implications of not meeting the real needs of everyone else in his city. Therefore, he told them the truth about Jesus of Nazareth. Just because they rejected the truth didn’t make it less true.
Sadly, those who were opposed missed the main thread of the entire Old Testament they claimed to revere and follow. Jesus himself said this, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” John 5:39-40
Do not miss the main point of the Bible. Do not be surprised by opposition and those who twist your words. Do not let the opposition stop you from seeing the truth. And if you, like Stephen, are full of faith and grace, do not let any opposition stop you from speaking the truth in love.
And don’t miss caring for widows while you are at it. That is pure religion before God the Father.