The Things We Do For Love

“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!”…. “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.”

 Acts 7:55-56, 59–60.

Stephen was the first martyr we read of in New Testament after the church was born on the day of Pentecost. His story is amazing and if it wasn’t recorded here for us I doubt we would even believe it was true and for sure we wouldn’t see it as a model on how to deal with those who hate us. As Stephen shared with the Jewish leaders about Jesus and how the nation of Israel had a history of rejecting the very ones God had sent to teach them and point them to their promised Messiah and how they responded in the same way as their ancestors had. They literally put their hands over their ears and began shouting to drown out Stephens voice and then grabbed him and drug him out of the city where they picked up stones and killed him.

I read his story and I ask myself if I would be willing to stand there and allow such wicked men to throw rocks at me until I die. What would make it possible? In a word love. Like Jesus, Stephen loved his countrymen, the jewish people and he wanted nothing more for them to be saved as he knew that is why Jesus had come into the world. Stephen loved Jesus and was a follower of Christ. He saw it as an honor to have the same experiences as Jesus for he understood in doing so he would better comprehend just who Jesus was being conformed into His image.

The book of Philippians captures the life of Jesus and the magnitude of it in just a few verses. We read in Philippians 2:1-8, “1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”

The writer of Hebrews 12:2 puts it like this, “…Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” What was the joy that was set before Him that would make it possible to endure the pain of the Cross? The answer is, me and you! Jesus knew what His death could accomplish for all who would place their hope in Him. Thats why Stephen could almost smile as he was being stoned and why you and I can endure the pain and suffering of this life too. It’s never in vain when we suffer for the benefit of others.

Like a woman giving birth can endure the pain for the joy that awaits her on the other when she will be holding her baby in her arms. If you ask her how does she get through the intense pain she remarks, “the pain doesn’t hurt so much when I focus on others needs.” Thats what Jesus did and thats what Stephen did too. I don’t know the pain you are enduring today but I do know it’s never in vain when we do it for Jesus and to benefit those we love. Life can be hard but the truth is, you can do hard things!

“Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.”

1 Peter 4:13


Michael Osthimer





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