6 May 2019
Stephen was filled with grace and power and began to work miracles and great signs among the people. But then certain people came forward to debate with Stephen, some from Cyrene and Alexandria who were members of the synagogue called the Synagogue of Freedmen, and others from Cilicia and Asia. They found they could not get the better of him because of his wisdom, and because it was the Spirit that prompted what he said. So they procured some men to say, ‘We heard him using blasphemous language against Moses and against God.’ Having in this way turned the people against him as well as the elders and scribes, they took Stephen by surprise, and arrested him and brought him before the Sanhedrin. There they put up false witnesses to say, ‘This man is always making speeches against this Holy Place and the Law. We have heard him say that Jesus the Nazarene is going to destroy this Place and alter the traditions that Moses handed down to us.’ The members of the Sanhedrin all looked intently at Stephen, and his face appeared to them like the face of an angel.
After Jesus had fed the five thousand, his disciples saw him walking on the water. Next day, the crowd that had stayed on the other side saw that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that the disciples had set off by themselves. Other boats, however, had put in from Tiberias, near the place where the bread had been eaten. When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into those boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they found him on the other side, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’
‘I tell you most solemnly,
you are not looking for me because you have seen the signs
but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat.
Do not work for food that cannot last,
but work for food that endures to eternal life,
the kind of food the Son of Man is offering you,
for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal.’
Then they said to him, ‘What must we do if we are to do the works that God wants?’ Jesus gave them this answer, ‘This is working for God: you must believe in the one he has sent.’
…you must believe in the one he has sent.
It has been a long while since I disappointed my boss. He is generally quite easygoing and gives me quite a bit of latitude in making decisions but recently, I made a wrong one and it discredited him in the eyes of many of his friends and peers. And in a strange twist of fate, I was put in his shoes the very next day when one of my staff went ahead with a decision which thankfully, didn’t end up with the same disappointing consequences (the outcome wasn’t that bad nor was it public). Instead, I took the opportunity to clarify my stance with the young chap and turned it into a learning opportunity.
Sometimes, those of us more ‘seasoned’ pros think we know better. We then forsake due process and rational logic and make decisions based on ‘gut feel’, which may end up making us feel as if we had been punched in the gut ourselves. We tune out all advice that says ‘this is the wrong way to go’ and convince ourselves that we will go against conventional wisdom and be prepared to take the calculated risk. Until someone higher up says, “Surely I have told you before what I feel about this matter. Did I not make myself clear?”
And just as Jesus made his teachings and beliefs clear to everyone around Him, many of us choose not to listen and think that we know better. How wrong we are, brothers and sisters. Because our God is a loving God and would not have sent a ‘false prophet’ to save us. His words are manna and meant to sustain us, what more His very presence, which we sometimes question as we assume our very human stance of ‘I know better because you don’t understand’.
Well, perhaps a hard lesson in humility is required at times for us to truly appreciate the wisdom and experience of those who have been around longer than us. Or who have formed their opinions with the benefit of hindsight after having made their own mistakes. It is not easy to swallow one’s pride and acknowledge weakness, especially in the face of others’ success. But we must learn to accept such blows and rise up strong, determined to learn from the lesson, however hard it may be.
Brothers and sisters, let us learn to quieten our hearts and appreciate sage advice. Let us not be too obstinate in our dealings with others and try to be more docile to the stirrings within us, especially if they are cautioning us to hold our tongue or to be careful.
(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: Father, teach us to be humble of heart and docile to your Word.
Thanksgiving: We thank you for the gift of humility.