Courage is a hot topic all throughout scripture. From Genesis to Revelation, Gods instruction is clear: be courageous. Thankfully for us, He gives us countless examples of what it means to act with bravery. Our primary one being Jesus. But there’s another character of the Bible who is mentioned in Acts that is a hero in his own right.
His name is Stephen. Stephen is described in Acts 6 as a man full of faith and of the holy spirit. He was living boldly for Christ and allowing great signs and wonders to be worked out through him. But many people took issue with Stephen’s outspokenness about the gospel of Jesus. So much so, that in Acts 7 the people became beyond enraged with a speech Stephen had given proclaiming that Jesus was who he said he was. They were so angry by his passionate message that they felt the best way to shut him up was to stone him.
Yes. Stephen was STONED for preaching the gospel. Actual rocks hit his body over and over again until it killed him. The scripture says that his words were so full of wisdom and so holy spirit inspired that it made people ANGRY.
It takes courage to stand up for Jesus in environments where the gospel may not be welcome. It takes courage to say the hard thing, challenge other believers, or confront wrongs. But Stephen shows us that the initial bravery and even the suffering isn’t all we can do.
Because Stephen didn’t just act with courage. He also acted with grace. As Stephen was having stones hurled at him, He was crying out to God and asking Him not to hold their sin against them (vs60). Scripture records that plea as his last words. He thought not of himself as he suffered for Christ but of those who hadn’t yet received the good news. He wasn’t just courageous, he was selfless.
What I learned reading through Acts 6-7 is that while courage is absolutely standing up and speaking out, it is also the selfless plea in times of suffering for the very ones who have caused our pain. In our world where we encouraged to fight back, hit below the belt and do everything at all costs to win, Stephen shows us that real victory happens when we bless those who curse us.
Most of us will not find ourselves being threatened with actual stones when we talk about Jesus. But the figurative ones are often thrown out in every day life. Sometimes about the gospel, sometimes just about who we are or people we love. Sometimes about what we do or how we do it. The point is: opposition is always there. And each time a figurative stone gets thrown at us we have the opportunity to say “Lord, Do not hold this sin against them.” We have the opportunity to display the same selfless courage Stephen did.
Courage is handling conflict the way Jesus and Stephen did rather than how the world tells us we should. Praying that the next time we find ourselves under attack, that the Holy Spirit would fill us with grace and compassion the same way He did Stephen.
Speaking of courage….I made a chicken for this weeks recipe. Ironic, huh?! ha Don’t be a chicken— make one!