Devotional for Saturday, May 9

Acts 7:55-60 (NLT)

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!”

Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.

As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.

If the monkey with his hands over his ears is “Hear No Evil,” the crowd that ultimately stoned Stephen must be “Hear No Good.”

You remember Stephen—he was one of the first deacons, assigned to distribute food so the apostles could preach. But he still could not help but declare Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and he even performed miracles, making Stephen an example to all of us.

As we see in Acts, his boldness drew a lot of attention, and Stephen became the first Christian martyr. The stoning is a terrible thing to consider, but there is more that troubles me as I read this story. What makes people stop up their ears to the Good News?

It’s a troubling question because it’s a question for now. As we live out our Christian mandate to tell others of Jesus Christ, we need to understand why people will actively avoid or even attack a joyous, hopeful message (and sometimes the messenger).

Some possibilities:

They’re not understanding the message, and the failure may be with us. Is the message delivered in a confusing way? Is the messenger possibly living in a contradictory way, causing people to say, “hypocrite”? This clearly wasn’t Stephen’s problem.

The message challenges the status quo. This likely was the problem for some of Stephen’s audience. People get comfortable with the way things are. If they benefit heavily from a system, perhaps having risen high in its ranks, they get nervous about other possibilities arising, even if those possibilities are grander than what they’ve previously imagined. Here’s an example: The head of the Scientology movement is going to be more resistant to the Christian message than most.

The devil makes them do it. Okay, Flip Wilson was wrong. The devil cannot make us do anything. But we must never forget evil is in the world, actively working through people’s brokenness to keep them from accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That little demon sitting on the shoulder can shout confusing information quite loudly in at least one ear.

Lord, trusting in your Spirit to guide us, may we witness with the clarity and purity of angels, and may we have patience when we realize we still may not be heard. Amen.

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