Monday, June 20 – Acts 7:1-8
Now the high priest said, “Are these things so?”
And Stephen said, “Listen to me, brothers and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and He said to him, ‘Go from your country and your relatives, and come to the land which I will show you.’ Then he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. And from there, after his father died, God had him move to this country in which you are now living. But He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, and yet, He promised that He would give it to him as a possession, and to his descendants after him, even though he had no child. But God spoke to this effect, that his descendants would be strangers in a land that was not theirs, and they would enslave and mistreat them for four hundred years. ‘And whatever nation to which they are enslaved I Myself will judge,’ said God, ‘and after that they will come out and serve Me in this place.’ And He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham fathered Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac fathered Jacob, and Jacob, the twelve patriarchs.
What happens when you are accused of something you didn’t do? What is your first response? For most people, it is to defend themselves, regardless of fault. Our human nature pulls us to self-preservation. Stephen had performed signs and wonders, but due to lies being spread among the crowd, he was dragged to a trial where he was asked if these accusations were true. Instead of building a defense around himself and his own intentions or pointing the finger at those who were lying, he began to share with the Synagogue officials the gospel thread throughout the Old Testament.
For Stephen, defending his own name was far less important than amplifying the name of Jesus. In our own lives, how important is it for us to be right? How far do you go to defend yourself before sharing the story of redemption? If you are in Christ, you have been made new; your life is now hidden in Him. Your intentions may be misunderstood, and you will mess up, and that is okay. In Christ, our lives are no longer marked by preserving our reputation but by humility, repentance, and newness in Jesus. He set the example in John 5 when He told those around Him that the Son did nothing but what the Father gave Him to do.
Stephen did not make a well-formulated argument in his own defense even though he was innocent. He shared the story of the gospel and trusted God’s redeeming work to the end. Can we also trust the redeeming work of God more than being right?
- Why do we have the tendency to be defensive?
- What does Stephen’s response teach you?
- Pray and ask God for humility to share His hope and love, even when it feels like people are rising against you.