Acts 6 this morning. And I’ve got Stephen on the mind. What grabs me is that he was full.
“Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. . . . And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.
(Acts 6:3-5, 8 ESV)
Full of the Spirit. Full of wisdom. Full of faith. Full of grace. Full of power. Stephen was full. As I chew on that, I find myself aspiring to be full too.
But is that something I can will? Something that I can work? Something that’s in my power and control to do? Can I make myself full?
I’m indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Sealed by the Spirit. Able to be led by the Spirit. But can I really say I’m thoroughly permeated by the Spirit?
I think I have some wisdom, some faith, and know what it’s like walk to be grace dependent, but I get the sense here that Stephen was intrinsically wired for wisdom, overflowing in faith, and saturated by grace. This guy comes across as a granite pillar of faith, and the more I noodle on this the more I feel like I’m but a mud-made jar of clay.
So, what’s the secret sauce to being full?
First, I don’t think I can make myself full. Doesn’t the word itself speak of something that was once empty (or at least less than full) being supplied with something outside itself? I am not the source of wisdom, faith, grace, or power. Certainly not in command of the Spirit. I can’t fill myself. Yet, I think I have a part. While I might not be able to make myself full, I’m thinking that I can open the lid for Jesus to fill this hollow vessel, to flood this jar of clay.
As I mediated further on Stephen, my eye fell on tomorrow’s reading in Acts. If there’s anything we’ll discover about Stephen from Acts 7, it’s that he knew the word. Stephen was also full of the Scriptures. Connection there? Some divine cause and effect? I’m thinkin’.
. . . be transformed by the renewal of your mind . . . (Romans 12:2b ESV)
I can’t do the filling, but I can furnish the Giver of “every good gift and every perfect gift from above” (Ja. 1:17) with something to work with. I can take in what’s been graciously provided for me to take in and trust Him that He will use it to make me, if not full like Stephen, at least fuller than I am. And that, “according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Rom. 12:3).
I can cooperate with God’s predestined purpose to conform me “to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29) by regularly, intentionally putting myself under His living and active word (Heb. 4:12). The word that gives wisdom, fuels faith, and purges the dross to maximize the power. The word that, when I open it, invites the Holy Spirit to engage in some divine one-on-One time.
I want to be full. Don’t think I can do that on my own. But I can be faithful. I can be purposeful. And I can be trustful, that the work He has begun in me, He will bring to fullness (Php. 1:6).
By His grace. For His glory.