Sunday, 11 September 2022
“Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.” (Acts 6:8)
Stephen was the first Christian martyr who was stoned to death for openly speaking the truth about Christ. He was full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom and was one of the seven chosen men being set apart and prayed over by the apostles to serve towards the growth of the church (Acts 6:5-7).
Stephen did great miracles and wonders among his people and this was not welcomed by the members of the synagogue. The arguments raised by the opposition were no match for his spiritual wisdom. And this led them to secretly persuade false witnesses and stir up anger among the elders and the teachers of the law. Right before his stoning he prayed “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Following this, he died. (Acts 7:59,60) Even during his last moments he reflected the nature of Christ within him. His final prayer could have been directed in many other ways yet he chose to say the same prayer as Christ prayed during His final moment.
Stephen’s life and ministry was outstanding. His faith and commitment to the Lord stand out as great testimony for us. In recent times people are suffering for their faith in many parts of the world and the testimony of Stephen is a great encouragement to such. To others who may not face such persecutions, yet when asked to stand up for their faith in little areas, how is the response? Are we able to reflect Christ and His principles in our actions and thoughts? Are we able to live a Christ-oriented life so that others can see we are different?
Sometimes we may think whether we could bring about any impact by what we say or do. The answer is YES! One man made the difference. Remember, Stephen’s death was not in vain. Paul’s conversion (who God used extensively amongst the apostles) was a direct impact of Stephen’s death. Besides, in Acts 8:1-4 it says everybody scattered after the persecution and they preached the Word of God wherever they went! Philip’s evangelistic journey followed by many other events— all were the outcomes of Stephen’s death.
Living out our faith may sometimes expose the sinfulness of others. Some may be convicted, a few may argue and others may get angry. This should not discourage us. As Jesus said, “they will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent Me.” (John 15:21) The life of Stephen is an example for every believer. Though he was falsely accused and later in Acts 7 as he defended the faith, he was cast out and stoned, yet he prayed that God would forgive his offenders. What a testimony!
We need to strive to live for Christ, committed to Him in every aspect, willing to be used by God for His plan and purpose. We need to be the light amongst the Gentiles and be faithful in our position as true ambassadors of Christ. Let us set our minds on things that are above and not that are on earth! For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:2-3)
Prayer: Heavenly Father help me to step out of my comfort zone for You! Help me to lead a life pleasing to You, and reflect the beauty of the Lord in every area of my life. In Jesus name, Amen!