“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.” — Acts 7:54
The first martyr in the early church was an extremely Godly man – Stephen. He was…
- Chosen by the believers to help oversee the distribution for the widows (Acts 6:5)
- Chosen for his good reputation as an honest man who was full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom (Acts 6:3)
- Full of faith and the Holy Ghost (Acts 6:5)
- Blessed along with the whole church in seeing many disciples multiply and many priests get saved (Acts 6:7)
- Used powerfully to do great wonders and miracles among the people (Acts 6:8)
- A gifted speaker so that his enemies could not resist the wisdom and spirit by which he spake (Acts 6:9-10)
Despite the blessing of God on his ministry and the dedication of his life and preaching, he was lied about and eventually killed, like Jesus (Acts 6:11-7:60).
He preached a marvellous message, but one that was too hard for his hearers to accept. They were convicted by his message. Instead of repenting, they hated him and stoned him to death.
One big lesson we learn from Stephen is that just because we are living for God and preaching the truth does not mean that we will be loved, accepted, and treated well. On the contrary, the stronger we stand for the Lord and His truth, the more we may be hated.
We must prepare to be hated, rejected, hurt, and persecuted for the Lord. But we also can rest in the fact the Lord will be with us, just like He was with Stephen (7:55), Joseph (7:9), and others.
And God may just use our testimony to bring about the salvation of others. Saul, who would become the apostle, was watching this all take place (7:58), and, no doubt, God used this experience and the message of Stephen in Saul’s life.