May 25 | Acts 6:59-60
“And they were stoning Stephen while he was calling out and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, don’t hold this sin against them.” And after saying this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 6:59-60)
I’m impressed with people who are not afraid to speak out against wrong, even though it’s unpopular. They put their reputation on the line for something they believe in. You don’t see that often these days.
Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, had no problem telling the Jewish leaders their history. They are not fond of him because he stood up for Jesus. He put his life on the line, and they took him up on his offer.
He didn’t have to stand up for Jesus. He could’ve kept his head down, kept quiet about his beliefs. But he didn’t. He stood up for Jesus and paid the ultimate price. He gave his life defending Jesus, and like Jesus, got in trouble for stating the truth.
I’m struck by how he handled his martyrdom. He made them even more angry when he told them he saw Jesus, who was prepared to receive him. Is Jesus ready to receive you? If you don’t acknowledge Him, He will not acknowledge you before the Father.
Is Jesus proud of your witness when it’s not popular? Stephen gave his life to defend Jesus. He sounds like Jesus when Jesus was on the Cross. As they stoned him, Stephen cries out, “Receive my spirit.” Then he forgives them for killing him.
Action Step: Evaluate your commitment to Jesus. Could you say the same as Stephen? Would you be able to forgive your persecutors even when they were killing you?
Jesus, give me the strength to handle persecution and peer pressure to turn away from you. I am ready to give my life for You. I know You look on me with pride because of my commitment to You and Your gospel.