Read: Acts 6:8-15
Stephen, one of the seven chosen to assist the apostles, is set up for failure. The cultural leaders vehemently oppose him, spreading falsehoods against him as they stir up the people to oppose him.
Explore the Theme: A man of God, Stephen did all the right things by God and for God–and he was persecuted for it. What do you think he felt about that? Frustrated? Did he see how similar his situation was to Jesus’? Did that help him to respond well, as Jesus did?
When the Jewish leaders can’t get what they want, they take matters into their own hands. They abandon reason with the truth and resort to lies. Did the situation seem unfair to them? What did they want more than they wanted the truth?
Ask God: When you encounter something that you don’t like, or feel threatened, what do you resort to? If you resort to taking things into your own hands, how can you begin changing that response to mirror the way Jesus handled unfair situations? Start a conversation with God about how you deal with unfair treatment–the treatment you receive from others, but also what you are handing out to others.
Can you say that you trust God to repay evil or do you want to see evil repaid your way? Ask God to help you trust him to act justly in every unfair situation. Ask him to deepen your faith in believing that he sees all things and that no unjust act goes unnoticed. Ask him to give you a heart like Stephen’s; like Jesus’.
Live it Out: Living for God does not guarantee a life free of suffering. Stephen seems to have a strong conviction that, in spite of his suffering, God’s heart toward him is good. What steps can you take this week to remind yourself of God’s heart toward you? Begin by writing down all of the ways God has been with you during difficult seasons – whether providing emotionally, physically, spiritually, or a combination of the three.
We would like to thank Sandals Church for providing this plan.