The Chosen

 
“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, …” … 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.
Acts 6:3, 5
 
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18
 
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
James 1:5
What criteria were the disciples given for choosing these seven? That they would be “known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom”. Let’s dive in to these two characteristics.

The story of Acts so far has been dominated by the coming of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2 describes the events of that first Pentecost. Peter assures the crowd that the Holy Spirit is “for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.” This promise is for any who repent and are baptised. Indeed, Paul encourages the believers in Ephesus to “… be filled with the Spirit.” The tense used in this verse has the connotation of a continuous replenishment, an ongoing state of being filled. Paul is encouraging us to “go on being filled” or "keep on being filled with the Spirit." While we receive the Holy Spirit when we become Christians (and we’ll never lose him!), we are encouraged to continually seek more of him. More of his life, light and love. So when the apostles ask the believers to choose people who are “known to be full of the Spirit” they’re thinking of those who have are actively seeking more of God.

They were also to be known for their wisdom. Now, wisdom is more than advice. It’s not things like, ‘Never ask a barber if he thinks you need a haircut’. Rather, wisdom has a distinct moral quality to it. Wisdom is choosing the right path, and doing the right and good thing. This is not easy. But God encourages us, if you lack wisdom, ask him for it! A famous example of this is King Solomon who asks for wisdom 2 Chronicles 1:1-12. He’s the guy who wrote most of the wisdom literature that made its way into the Bible. He asked for wisdom, and God gave generously. The effect of God’s gift of wisdom is to make us more humble, more joyful, more godly, more quick-sighted as to his will, more resolute in the doing of it and less troubled by the dark and painful things in this fallen world. What wonderful things to be known for!

Do not discount yourself from being known for being full of the Spirit and wisdom. God offers both to you. All you need to do is ask him for them.

Before we get to the questions, it is also vitally important that we note that these seven men who were chosen to fulfil this role were all Greek. We know this because of their names. If you’ve been tracking with this week’s series of devotions, you might remember we started by looking at the racial/ethnic/cultural tensions within the early church community and the discrimination one group was facing. It is significant that the seven people chosen to help solve this issue were from the minority culture. Both the minority and majority culture solved this issue in a way that the short-term immediate need was addressed but, also, there was increased meaningful authority given to the marginalised. We should aim to emulate this kind of leadership.
1)   When was the last time you asked to be filled with the Holy Spirit? What’s stopping you asking God for this now?

2)   When was the last time you asked to God for more wisdom? What’s stopping you asking God for this now?

3)  The seven men chosen to address the issue were Greek. Had you noticed this before? What does this passage mean for our attitude to leadership representation?
Heavenly Father, you encourage your children to come to you and ask you for good things. Today, I ask that I would be known for being full of the Spirit and wisdom. I confess that I cannot conjure these myself. Only you can give them to me. 
 
Father, please fill me with your Holy Spirit afresh. 
 
Father, please give me the wisdom that I lack.   
 
In Jesus' name, Amen.
Today’s Everyday Devotions were brought to you by Andy Tuck, who once defeated an international rugby player in single combat.

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