But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw God’s glory and Jesus standing at the right side of God. “Look!” he said. “I see heaven opened and the Son of Man standing at the right side of God!”
With a loud cry the Council members covered their ears with their hands. Then they all rushed at him at once, threw him out of the city, and stoned him. The witnesses left their cloaks in the care of a young man named Saul. They kept on stoning Stephen as he called out to the Lord, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” He knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord! Do not remember this sin against them!” He said this and died. Acts 7: 55-60
Surely, this is a man filled with the Holy Spirit. A man who knew there was much more than this life. They could take his life, but God had his eternity. I think about the times that people have hurt my feelings and how long it sometimes takes me to forgive them. Those things were nothing in comparison to being stoned to death and yet Stephen still asked God not to remember their sin. How, we ask, can he have forgiven them in the midst of their actions against him? Simple, it wasn’t Stephen, it was the Holy Spirit inside of him. We too have the same power inside of us. We just have to use it. Daily prayer and time spent with God and reading his word help us to learn to rely on the Holy Spirit and not ourselves and the emotions that so often grip our souls.
Stephen’s action seems impossible given his circumstance. That is why his story is so beautiful. He truly thought of others above himself. This is something that only happens when we are completely surrendered to the Holy Spirit and his work in our hearts.
During our lesson at high school youth the other night a question was asked and it was this:” If you lost everything important in your life and all that was left was Jesus, would he be enough?” I think where Stephen was concerned I would say resounding, yes! May Stephen’s story encourage us to let Jesus be enough today.
Gracious God, help us to live for others today thinking of them rather than ourselves. In doing so, we are loving You and Your people. Sometimes it is difficult to love others the way you ask us to. In those moments help us remember you and surrender the Holy Spirit that lives in us. In Jesus Name, Amen.