There is nothing like that first cup of coffee. It’s the first thing I go for in the morning, that and my Bible. I am seeking to wake up and wake up. The coffee stirs some energy in my system, prying my eyes open physically, but then the word of God does it’s fair share of stirring my spirit and waking it up to God’s Spirit and His mission. And today, He laid this word, stirring on my heart. As I stirred my coffee, the thought came to me as I was reading Acts 6 that some stirring is healthy but then some is destructive.
“So they stirred up the people and the elders of the teachers of the law” (Acts 6:12). In hostility, the elders and the teachers of God’s law stirred up the people to discord, dissension and eventually to persecution of one of God’s faithful servants, Stephen.
We learn from Acts 6 that Stephen, a deacon who waited on tables and served the widows had a great impact on the people. Why? He was filled with the power of the Spirit and it was oozing from him into every person he served. He performed great wonders and signs among the people and because of the impact he was having, opposition arose. The religious people of his day were jealous; their competitive nature caused them to try with all their might to pummel the impact Steven was making. Self-glory usually does this!
When believers submit to their competitive and jealous nature, they act much like these religious people of Stephen’s day. They hate or dislike someone who is serving Christ with impact; they end up being a stirrer of conflict. Jealousy is a dangerous trait in human nature. It feeds resentment; it makes partners rivals; it creates dissatisfaction in another’s success and works tirelessly at destroying the progress of them. Often times we don’t even know this horrible trait has hit us until we see the effect it has had on the community we live in.
A wise saying from Proverbs tells us of the six things the Lord hates, but seven He detests. 1.) haughty eyes, 2.) a lying tongue, 3.) hands that shed innocent blood, 4.) a heart that devises wicked schemes, 5.) feet that are quick to rush into evil, 6.) a false witness who pours out lies, and 7.) a person who stirs up conflict in the community. (Proverbs 6:16-19). Notice the seventh, “a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” This one culminates all that the Lord hates and brings it to a total detestation.
Have you known a person like this? Have you been this person? What causes a person to go here? I think we would all agree we have known a person like this, we have been this person, and sinful desires with lustful eyes for ambition and personal admiration get us here.
But is all stirring wrong?
To stir means to do many things, but one is to “to set in tremulous, fluttering, or irregular motion.” To stir sets in motion a different pattern. When prompted by evil, this stirring has negative effects as mentioned earlier. When we stir up people to discord, we work against the Holy Spirit, but when we stir people up to good works and encouragement, we work in step with the Spirit of God. This kind of stirring produces unity among believers.
Consider another definition of stir: “to rouse from inactivity and complacency.” Many occasions, we as believers need some stirring when we find ourselves in this state, amen? For Titus 3:8 tells us so, “…I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God may be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for me.” Therefore let us, as Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “stimulate one another to love and good deeds…encouraging one another…” A stirring of this sort brings us closer to each other and causes greater impact on the people we serve. What is the motive of this positive stirring? It is the goal to please our Father in heaven and to make the other person successful. The aim is always glory to God and the betterment of the other person, “not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of the others” (Philippians 2:4). This is so contrary to our culture, but take note, Jesus did not come to teach us how to blend in culture, He taught us to be holy – set a part from culture.
We live in an age of success measured by popularity, achievements, and being great. But greatness is not found in our own renown, it’s found in making God famous. And to do this successfully, Jesus tells us to be servants, to die to ourselves, to love the brotherhood and to become less as He becomes more. This leads to choosing a life that is only seen hidden behind the cross. For in this manner of stirring, we become like Stephen – stoned yet “with a face of an angel” (Acts 6:15).
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