When It Get’s Personal (Acts 7)

54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. Acts 7:54

Has anyone ever blasted you in a conversation only to end the blasting by gazing into your eyes and saying, please don’t take this personally? I am sure most of us have had this experience. When I was a younger man, I took everything personally. In my sinful state I considered everything said about me as an attack on my ministry. But then I came to realize it was not my ministry.

When that reality came, things changed in my life. Now the blasting did not stop, but my response changed. Here is what Jesus had to say about our discussion:

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11-12

In Acts 7 we find the story of Stephen who had gotten in trouble for the gospel (See Acts 6 and yesterdays blog). In chapter 7 we read Stephen’s defense and we read about Stephen’s death.

Here a suggested outline of the chapter:

  1. Stephen simply recounted the steps of his ancestors, 7:1-50.
  2. Stephen confronted the sins of his people, 7:51-52.

The nation of Israel had been prideful and rebellious since their very beginning. Even Stephen’s own generation had followed in the same sinful path. In each generation Israel had either persecuted or murdered God’s messengers culminating in the crucifixion of Jesus.

At this point the people were angered by the truth they heard. The light that was shinning on their darkness, cut them and they pushed back. The anger began to boil over. Suddenly the crowd erupted and they began to pick up stones to kill Stephen.

At the same time we see Stephen in a totally different frame of mind. The man of God was:

  • Filled with the Spirit.
  • Focused on Heaven. Stephen saw the Glory of God and he saw Jesus standing in Heaven ready to receive Stephen home.
  • Filled with forgiveness in his heart.

Stephen was modeling what one Christ-hater would one day write:

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17

Oh the different response we can have when we are walking in Christ. Brothers and sisters, I have come to realize every moment of every day is to be personal.

Each moment is our moment to be different from the world and to be a delight in God’s eyes so that He can use us as His light bearer’s in the world.

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