The book of Acts is not only the story of how Jesus’ church starts and grows but also of how individuals come to faith and develop. We also see the results of people who decide to hang on to their old ways of living, like Ananias and Sapphira, and pay dearly.
This week we are introduced to Stephen and Saul (his name changes to Paul later). It is very interesting that Stephen is chosen to help with the practical logistics of food distribution which is the kind of work that we might think isn’t particularly “spiritual”. But spiritual maturity was a requirement since the work it necessitated wisdom and discernment in treating people of all backgrounds fairly and without favoritism. We see Stephen’s depth of faith in Christ soon afterward as he testifies about how Jesus is clearly the Messiah and challenges the religious leaders to take and honest look at the Scriptures and see. His conviction, humility, and courage stand as a model of what the Holy Spirit wants and is able to develop in all of us.
As Stephen is being executed we are introduced to Saul. As we read we will see Saul’s passion and commitment to destroy the Christian movement grow. We will also see how God’s mercy is displayed as He challenges Paul with the truth and invites him to join those he is trying to eliminate.
As we read, we see that following Jesus means that we will change as God has the reigns of our lives. As we change we become more able to accomplish the good things God wants and desires for us to do.