The Impact of Personal Sacrifice

Stephen’s story, recorded in Acts 7, draws my attention like a poltice drawing an infection. It evidently had that impact on Saul of Tarsus as well. As you likely recall, Saul is introduced to us in this event of lies, deception and murder. Unlike others cast into the fatal role, Stephen apparently never pled for his life or railed against his accusers and their unjust charges. He simply pled for forgiveness for the evil men and revelled in the vision of Jesus, standing at the throne of heaven, honoring his death.

We are given no reason to suspect that Stephen knew why God had chosen his fatal path, nor that God had whispered comfort into his ear to help him through the ordeal. The image we are left with is one of faithful determination to walk beneath the “cross” he had been assigned, ever giving glory and honor to God.

Saul, later known to us as the Apostle Paul, could not get that image out of his mind either. He referenced it while giving his testimony years later: “And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him” (Acts 22:20).

Stephen was “ALL IN” as God’s man. He did not question God’s strategy nor God’s use of His assets. Stephen trusted God, His purposes, and His promise. Stephen walked the path he had been placed upon, yeilding himself to God’s plan to impact this influential, type-A Saul of Tarsus.

When you are tempted to abandon God’s plan for you, take comfort and courage in the example of Stephen. I do. Paul did.

“All In” is just that, nothing less. Oh… lest I forget, there is Good News that forever needs repeated. If/when we mess it up and get off track, God still loves us and the Blood of Jesus still cleanses us!

What do you use as encouragement in times of doubt or discouragement?

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