“When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their cloaks at the feet of a man named Saul.” – Acts 7:58
We never know who’s listening. In Acts chapter 6, Stephen was wrongfully accused of blaspheming against Moses (he didn’t do that), and was forcefully taken before the Jewish Council. Once there, his accusers planted false witnesses to continue to use lies to speak against him. His reaction to the false accusations is what was phenomenal. Stephen easily could have chosen to refute the claims or have others speak on his behalf. The human response is to defend and fight for yourself. Stephen’s response was very different. He took that moment to defend and fight for the name and holiness of Jesus as Savior and God. Saul had a front row seat to Stephen’s defense of Jesus in that moment prior to his death by stoning.
We never know the extent to which God will use us. Stephen didn’t have a ministry spanning many years. From what we know of his life as mentioned in the scriptures he didn’t travel around the Roman Empire or even around Israel. The Bible does mention that he was one of seven men chosen for a specific task by the disciples (care of Hellenistic Jewish widows). It is mentioned though, that he was full of the Holy Spirit and wise. At the time of his death though, he not anyone else knew that Saul would become a great man of God, detailed in the Bible by his transformation from a persecutor (killer) of Christians to the man who wrote much of the New Testament and took the word of God throughout the Roman Empire. Surely, Paul’s life was impacted by being present and active in the accusations and martyrdom of Stephen. We know it wasn’t an immediate impact, but how many of us know people who came to Christ after many years and multiple seeds planted in their soul over time? God uses us, and we just don’t know to what extent. The importance is that we obey Him when He calls us to proclaim Him.
Be bold. Stephen had every reason available to defend himself and potentially save his own life in the moment. Instead he proclaimed God. His action had direct and lasting impact on Paul (Saul). His action was Holy, and many of us know and believe in Christ today because of Stephen’s faith and boldness.
I hope that I can continue to build my faith and fullness in the Holy Spirit like Stephen. In such a way that if the day or time ever comes in a dire situation that I defend my faith and truth in God. The best practice I have right now is continually sharing with others around me how God has moved in and changed me, with hope that I could have the impact on generations of believers long after I’m spending eternity with Jesus.