For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. 1 Peter 2:19-23
Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people. But one day some men from the Synagogue of Freed Slaves, as it was called, started to debate with him. They were Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and the province of Asia. None of them could stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke. So they persuaded some men to lie about Stephen, saying, “We heard him blaspheme Moses, and even God.” This roused the people, the elders, and the teachers of religious law. So they arrested Stephen and brought him before the high council. The lying witnesses said, “This man is always speaking against the holy Temple and against the law of Moses. We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy the Temple and change the customs Moses handed down to us.” At this point everyone in the high council stared at Stephen, because his face became as bright as an angel’s. Acts 6:8-15
The 1 Peter passage says that we are called by God to do good, even if it means that we suffer for it. Jesus is held up for us as an example of this. Unfair treatment is hard to endure but God has purposes that we don't immediately see. We are called to follow in the steps of Jesus. This means that we do good, suffer for it, don't retaliate in any way, and all along the way place ourselves in God's hands. The story of Stephen gives us a beautiful example of someone who quite literally followed in the steps of Jesus. The passage above tells us that Stephen was full of God's grace and power. We are told that his face became as bright as an angel's when those who were opposing him brought charges against him. Could it be that we have a lot to learn about the unleashing of the Holy Spirit in our lives in those critical moments when we face oppositon. Be sure to read Acts 7:54-60 for the culmination of Stephen's story.
Thank you Lord for your patience with us. The calling to which you have called us remains quite high above the actual lives we live. We pray that you will bring our actual experience closer in line with the desires you have for our lives. Help us enter into full and complete surrender to you and the calling you have for us as your people. We bow in worship to you Lord and say to you with full conviction and resolve, "your will and not mine be done, Oh Lord."
Posted on Thu, February 12, 2015
by Ken Hart