February 8, 2018
100% for Christ
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
─ Matthew 5:10
Most of us don’t think of persecution as a blessing. We certainly don’t think it’s something to be celebrated. But the story of Stephen in the book of Acts has a different take on persecution.
The Bible calls him a man full of God’s grace and power. He did great and miraculous wonders. Some of the Jewish leadership spoke against him. But the Spirit of God was in Stephen, and the religious leaders of the day could not win. So they persuaded others to lie and say that he had spoken against God and Moses.
When he was under attack, Stephen didn’t defend himself. Instead he took the opportunity to teach about Jesus. He accused the religious leaders of failing to obey God’s law, something they took great pride in. They were deeply offended. But this was the same charge Jesus had brought against them.
During his speech, Stephen probably knew he was delivering his own death sentence, yet he pressed on in truth. Unwilling to have their sinful causes uncovered, the religious leaders stoned him to death. And like Jesus did on the cross, Stephen prayed for them to be forgiven for their murderous actions.
This persecution served to spur on the growth of the New Testament church and was ultimately a blessing as more lives were saved.
Stephen was the first to die for his faith in Jesus, and his sacrifice should raise questions even today. We’re sometimes asked if we’d be willing to die for our faith in Christ, and many Christians around the world are doing just that. Like Stephen, they are living for Christ every day. And their testimony is drawing others closer to God—a blessing in the midst of persecution.
Perhaps we should be asking ourselves not only if we are willing to die for Christ, but also if we will truly live for Him each day.
Today’s One Thing
Take a moment and examine your life right now. Are you truly living 100 percent for Christ? Resolve to give your all to Him in all areas of your life.