Jump Start # 1932
1 Corinthians 16:15 “Now I urge you, brethren (you know the household of Stephanas, that they were the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves for ministry to the saints),”
Stephanas, not a ready name that we are familiar with from the Bible. Our passage tells us three great things about Stephanas.
First, he was one of the first of Achaia, meaning one of the first to become a Christian from there. Later, the brethren from Achaia sent money to help the poor Christians in Jerusalem. Stephanas wasn’t the only Christian in Achaia, he was one of the firsts.
Second, the household of Stephanas was included. This shows the influence that was felt within that home. Household may include wife, older children, and servants. A nucleus to begin a congregation. It started with his family.
Third, they were devoted to the ministry to the saints. They were dedicated in what they did. They were committed. Helping others. Helping others physically and helping others spiritually. This is what they were known for.
It’s this third expression, devoted themselves for the ministry, that I want to take a look at. The King James uses the word, “Addicted,” instead of devoted. They were addicted to the ministry. That’s a great way of looking at that. We tend to look at “addictions” as negative. We hear about those who are addicted to heroin or porn. The addictions change their lives. The addictions rob them of peace. But here, it’s a good kind of addiction. It’s a positive force. Great things came out of this addiction.
The family of Stephanas was addicted to the ministry to the saints. This is what they were about. They were devoted, committed and dedicated to this. It wasn’t a casual thing for them. It wasn’t something that easily got put on the back burner. It wasn’t something that they talked about but just never got around to it. They were addicted to this. It wasn’t something that they could walk away from and not think about. This was them. This was part of their spiritual DNA. This was who they were.
Addicted. I wonder if apostles were writing about us, what they would say? Would they say that some of us are addicted to sports. Some may be addicted to TV. Some may be addicted to their cell phones. Some may be addicted to money.
The ministry to the saints is what Stephanas was about. This is what defined him. This described him. Of all the identifying words that the Holy Spirit could have chosen, it was this one, addicted to the ministry.
What would addicted to the ministry look like?
First, this would come up often in their conversations. People tend to talk about what they are passionate about and what is important to them. I’d expect if you could have lunch with Stephanas, quickly, he’d be talking about what plans he had to teach other brethren. He’d tell you what was being done already. He’d tell you the great successes with some. He’d tell of concerns and needs to reach more and do more. You’d see in his eyes that he was really into this. Try to switch subjects and before long, he’d be back to this again.
Second, you’d notice that he has put a lot of time into this. He has been writing others. He has been teaching others. He’s gathered supplies. He’s stock piled some things to use. This was important to him. I don’t know if folks in the first century took vacations, but I’d expect this guy used his to further help the saints. Stephanas was a leader. He wanted others to do well. He has thought things out. He has prayed about it.
Third, you’d quickly find out that Stephanas as poured much of his own money into this. He wouldn’t have it any other way. How could he sleep at night, knowing that he bought the latest and greatest gadget, while others were still struggling. Struggling spiritually. Struggling financially. Struggling emotionally. He was there to help.
Fourth, if you were having this lunch with Stephanas, before you left, he’d have you involved some how. He’d ask if you could come with him to teach others. He’d ask if you could donate a Saturday to help. He’d want to know if you could contribute to some project that would help these brethren get stronger. This is the way addictions work. They pull others in. You’d leave that lunch now involved yourself. You may not have wanted to, but how could you resist the pleas of Stephanas. He is always looking for others to not just get involved, but to become as addicted as he was to the work of the Lord.
Fifth, you would see in this brother’s eyes how much he loved others and how deeply he was involved in the kingdom. His passion would make you question your faith. His zeal would make you wonder how serious you have been. This person was so like the Lord. He wanted everyone to be saved. He wanted every Christian to be strong. He wanted congregations to thrive. We wanted men to be shepherds and preachers. It was as if nothing else mattered. Don’t talk politics, he’s not interested. Sports don’t move his needle. It’s the kingdom. It’s spiritual life. What a man of God!
One little expression deep in Corinthians, and what it reveals about a great man of God. I would love to have more of Stephanas in me. I would love to be addicted as he was. I would love to be so focused and committed as he was.
Addicted to the ministry to the saints. How serious are you about things? How hard are you trying? How much are we letting other things sidetrack us and get us off course?
Can you imagine an Stephanas in your congregation? Can you imagine a whole family of Stephanas? Can you imagine you being a Stephanas? Why not?