FACING OPPOSITION WITH GRACE

Scripture Reading:  Acts 6:8-15

“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 Freemen (as it was called), and the Cyrenes, and of the Alexandrians, and those from Cecelia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen.  But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.” (Acts 6:8-10)

Stephen was one of the first deacons.  He obviously met the requirements of deacons:  “Men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (v. 3).  Stephen was engaged in a very effective ministry — he “was doing great wonders and signs among the people.”  However Stephen met opposition from sone of the religious people of Jerusalem.  These people began to argue with Stephen, but they “could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.”  This group then secretly instigated certain men who brought false charges against Stephen (vs. 11-14).  Eventually Stephen was brought before the Sanhedrin for a trial.

Stephen withstood the opposition with grace and wisdom.  Obviously he understood that He was saved by grace.  As a result of this understanding, he was able to respond to those who opposed him with grace.  Grace keeps us humble and allows us to act graciously toward others, even toward those who oppose us and seek to do us harm.  We are able to live out our brokenness before others when we focus on the grace that God has poured out on us.

Stephen understood God’s grace and he was also filled with the Spirit.  He relied upon the Holy Spirit to direct him and to give him wisdom as he responded to those who opposed him.  He yielded to the Spirit and responded in a humble and respectful way.  Even his countenance showed the presence of the Spirit in his life:  “And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel” (v. 15).

We will face opposition at times.  Often I find myself reactive and defensive when others oppose me.  I respond out of pride and easily become angry.  My desire is to be filled with grace and power, not my power but the power of the Holy Spirit.

Lord Jesus, let me be taken by Your grace today.  Enable me to rely upon Your Holy Spirit to give me wisdom and power.  When I face those who oppose me, let me respond with grace and wisdom.

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