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And so they killed Stephen! That’s how Dr. Luke concludes the seventh chapter of the book he wrote called The Acts of the Apostles. I don’t always respond positively to the criticism of others. Do you? I think my natural tendency is to simply have my critics disappear. Deep in our heart, when our wrongdoing is made public, we want to see the one who shines light on us befall some harm themselves. That’s what happened with the first martyr of the Church- Stephen. He shined the light on the role the Jewish religious leaders played in killing Jesus (by the way, they were not the only ones guilty). When he did, they were unified in their response. They wanted him to disappear. And so they killed Stephen! What made them so enraged? This is what he said:

“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.  Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, and you have now become betrayers and murderers of Him; you who received the Law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.” Acts 7:51-53 NASB

Do I respond to criticism in the flesh or in the Spirit? Am I willing to hear the truth and endure the difficulty of finding it?

God, as this day begins- I am so grateful that You have forgiven me. I realize that had I been the only one to ever live, it would have been me nailing Jesus to the cross. He died for me. Thank you for Stephen’s example of courage to say what had to be said. For me, may I speak with the same grace and truth, realizing personal loss can come when I shine the light of truth. Help me always to speak the truth in a loving way, and leave the results to You!

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