Stephen was an amazingly gifted man, full of faith and power.
The wonderful thing about a statement like that is knowing it is not his own grace and power Stephen is filled with. If it was, he would be just another example of a man doing things in his own strength. Instead, we know Stephen is a man who has receded. He has become less – that God may become more. And so, we know it is God’s grace and God’s power at work in Stephen. He has become a vessel.
This is the greatest thing any man can become on this earth. Empty of self, filled with the Spirit of God for the sake of the works of God and the pleasure of God. This is man’s all.
Stephen is but one of many examples of this kind of life in the early-days church. He did not seek recognition. It found him. Stephen sought Jesus Christ, not position or authority.
He did great wonders and signs in the power of Christ. That’s all we really know about the man. We don’t know where he came from, and we don’t know how it was he came to be selected by the multitude as an example for the apostles to consider for the lofty position of servant.
Servant. Think about that word. Servant. To be greatly known as a servant. Food distribution was the concern. What kind of man would use his life to feed the Hellenist widows who had previously been overlooked? Stephen was one of seven chosen to make sure the food went out equally and well.
But there’s something to this idea of things being given away that can easily cause contention among people, especially hungry people. It takes a very special person to help people see their need is to see the need of all and not for themselves primarily. And this requires a man who has already seen these things clearly himself.
To be useful to Jesus is to be useful to others. Self has left the building. Sometimes, the hardest ones to get to have sorrow for others are the ones who have sorrow for themselves. Stephen was one of the seven gentle men who had made themselves empty as an example so others may be filled. They were poured out as drink offerings for the Lord Jesus Christ, to be His hands and feet, and not their own. In THIS WAY the bread of the word of God spread, and all were filled.