April 29 – Stephen – Acts 6-7
Stephen was one of the seven Spirit filled men chosen to be the first deacons. So we know Stephen had a reputation of being honest, wise, a willing servant, and filled with the Holy Ghost. After these men accepted these responsibilities, the word of God increased and the number of disciples multiplied greatly. Stephen directly influenced this explosion of Christianity through his service as a deacon. Stephen also preached and performed miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit. His boldness and influence attracted criticism from other religious folks in the synagogue. These critics stirred up the people, eventually dragging Stephen before the Sanhedrin council (the same council to condemn Jesus). In chapter 7 when asked to defend himself, Stephen preaches a fantastic pointed sermon. After they heard his oration, they were cut to the heart. There are three main ways people react to hearing hurtful truth. 1) Repent and try to make things right. 2) Ignore and continue in their sin. 3) Justify their sin and many times attack the one speaking the truth. These people reacted by lashing out and stoning Stephen to death. They chose to kill the messenger of truth, but they still could not change the truth.
Stephen truly followed Christ’s example of forgiveness. Even in death Stephen asked for the forgiveness of his attackers. May we exercise such forgiveness as well.