Acts 7:57-60 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
LESSON - Stephen was one of the early church deacons. He was described in chapter 6 as a man filled with the Holy Spirit. In this chapter he recounts the history of Israel to his Jewish listeners and outlines their track record for killing God’s messengers, beginning with the prophets and ending with Jesus. Unwilling to accept the truth that he gave them, they carried him out of the city and stoned him. While Stephen was being stoned, he remained spirit-filled and prayed for his attackers. It is imperative that we notice two principles from this passage:
1. A willingness to forgive.
Stephen’s prayer was very similar to Jesus’ prayer as he was being crucified. “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.”If Stephen could forgive others under these circumstances, We are without excuse!
2. The importance of a testimony.
We are not certain how many people present were impacted by this event, but it is clear that one person was affected by the experience.Saul who became Paul after his conversion, was consenting to this mob’s violence. Paul saw Stephen maintain his testimony unto death. We discover in the New Testament how God used this experience in Paul’s life. We should be mindful how important our testimony is before unbelievers. Even if our life only impacts one person, God may use that one person to change the world just like He did with Paul. Circumstances will not always be conducive to being Christlike, but godliness will always be an option for Believers. Stay faithful! God may use your life to change the world by changing others through you.