Stephen had done nothing but serve God. He had been a man of good reputation in the church. He was full of faith. He had taken care of the least of these as Christ had commanded. This commitment to taking care of the least had resulted in a great revival in Stephen's community. He performed great miracles for the sake of Christ during this revival. All of this he had done for Christ, and still he stood before a crowd of angry and hate-filled faces.
There was no way out of this situation. As Stephen stared back at the raging eyes of the mob, he didn't spit in their faces. He didn't pick up a stone to throw back at them. And as they hurled stones upon him, he didn't spew curses towards his attackers. Instead, Stephen did exactly what the One he followed had done before him. He forgave his murders, asking God to not count this sin against them.
A Life Of Mercy
Stephen died as he lived, exhibiting mercy to those around him. Taking care of the widows of Jerusalem was an act of mercy. It showed compassion for his community, both in the church and his city. This compassionate expression built a merciful mindset in Stephen that would go on to impact his every action. His laying hands on people so they might be healed came from compassion. His reaching for souls in every area of society came from compassion. Finally, his willingness to forgive those who would persecute and murder him came from the same compassion that led him to take on the role as caretaker of widow ladies. Compassion infiltrated every area of his life and the rewards were immense, even in his death because it showed a young man named Saul what following Christ was all about.
Being Merciful Like The Master
In order to be a merciful servant of Christ, we can't just have it in certain areas of our life. We can't have compassion towards some and vitriol towards others. We can't act with forgiveness towards one group while cursing another. We can't extend a hand to one situation while pulling it back in another ordeal. Mercy, like Christ, is consistent; and if we are to operate with mercy, we must be consistent also.
Mercy must be consistent in every action, thought and spoken word. We must exhibit it to our loved ones, casual acquaintances and strangers. How we provide mercy is dictated by God. Stephen was led by his faith to compassionately reach the city of Jerusalem, knowing that he could face persecution. We must let our faith in God spur us on to do great things in our own community, even if it does lead to trials and tribulations along the way. It starts with helping the least in our community and then spreads to reach our community at large. Stephen's passion for God led him not to ask for deliverance or to punish his accusers, but that they would not have his death held against them at the judgment. When we face trials and tribulations in our lives, we must allow God's mercy to extend through us even to those who would persecute us. If we do this, we might find ourselves witnessing to someone who could make a massive impact for God down the road. If we do these things, we will shake our world just like Stephen. We will be truly counted as merciful like the Master.
Who in your community needs help that you can provide?
Make a list and start reaching for these people with compassion.
Let the Spirit guide you with how to operate and speak to them.
See how helping these people opens doors for revival in your community.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.