Day 30

Stephen



Acts 6:1-15, Acts 7:1-60, Psalm 23:4

BY Erin Davis

God’s people are to be filled people. Not barely-enough people or just-a-trickle people, but filled to overflowing. The apostle Stephen knows what I mean.

Perhaps your frame of reference for him is “Stephen the Martyr,” the one who died at the hands of an angry religious mob just as the Church was being birthed. I don’t dispute the facts; Stephen did, in fact, become the first Christian martyr when he was mercilessly killed for his faith. It’s Stephen’s legacy I take issue with. As I look again at the details of Stephen’s life, recorded in Acts 6–7, it’s not his death that reaches through the pages and grabs my heart. It’s his life—his filled-to-overflowing life.

Scripture records that Stephen was a man “full of faith and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). He didn’t have a teensy measure of faith, or enough faith to get by. Stephen was full of faith, and because of his faith in Jesus, he was also full of the Holy Spirit. Fast forward a few verses and we read that Stephen was “full of grace and power” (v.8), and again, the image is more than enough.

When pressed by the religious leaders, Stephen started preaching. Boy howdy, did that boy preach! His powerful words show us that he was full of wisdom and full of the truth found in Scripture. When his opponents became enraged and moved to silence once and for all, Scripture records:

Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven.
He saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
He said, “Look, I see the heavens opened
and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:55–56).

As he breathed his final breaths, Stephen cried out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” and asked that God would “not hold this sin against” those who’d killed him (vv.59–60). Sound familiar? If so, that’s because they echo the words Jesus uttered as He hung and died on the cross (Luke 23:46, 34). It’s as if Stephen was so filled with God’s words that they were at the very surface of his heart. When Stephen was squeezed, it was Jesus’s words that spilled out.

Oh, do not picture our brother Stephen buried and bloodied, for that is not all he was. Stephen’s heart was filled with love for his Savior because he was running over with wisdom, grace, and power. Because of Christ’s work for us and in us, we can be filled up too. Didn’t the apostle Paul urge us to “be filled with the Spirit”? (Ephesians 5:18). Doesn’t Scripture record that we can be “filled with encouragement” and “overflowing with joy [even] in all our afflictions”? (2Corinthians 7:4). Didn’t the prophet Micah proclaim that he was “filled with power by the Spirit of the LORD”? (Micah 3:8). Yes, God’s people are to be filled people.

Lord Jesus, make us more like Stephen, filled to overflowing with you.

Post Comments (44)

44 thoughts on "Stephen"

  1. PamC says:

    Erin, thank you for this life affirming post and better view of Stephen’s legacy…Stephen the Faithful.

  2. Diana Fleenor says:

    ERIKA KIRPAL: I like what you said about his position in society. I imagine you did bring the light of Christ to the children in your most needed position as lunch lady!

    KC: My prayer is for the Lord’s presence and power be made most evident to you as you go through labor and delivery!

  3. Diana Fleenor says:

    I’m glad that Erin pointed out the Stephen’s legacy is “more” than his martyrdom. With a both/and mindset, I would say we need to embrace both his life and his death because both reflect a life fully devoted and filled with Christ. Maybe we could call him “The Faithful Martyr”? Like Paul said, “It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:20-21). Our life and our death as Christians is to honor Christ. That is my prayer for all of us today, my sisters!

  4. Angie says:

    Lindsay C., I saw your post from yesterday. There is a blessed sisterhood in the family of Christ. I remember during my time in Bible Study Fellowship, as a young mom, there was a beautiful confirmation when the Holy Spirit guided us in unity toward the same thoughts. (As you noticed He has done for us at times.) While I think you called my words eloquent, I smile because I look at the concise way you, and others, are able to share your thoughts and I think how I would like to be less wordy and more specifically eloquent. Isn’t that funny!
    At the same time I enjoy and am affirmed by the Holy Spirit’s guiding me in unity with other sisters, I equally enjoy the new thoughts and ideas shared by those with different insights, still guided by the Holy Spirit, but for where they are in their lives at that time. God created individuals and blends us into a community of believers. Like a beautiful bouquet of various flowers in varied colors, the similarities and mix of our spirits and His guidance is fragrant, eye-catching, even breath-taking when used for His glory.

  5. Lindsay C. says:

    I am encouraged today because the same Spirit who lived in Stephen lives also in me. May I be so rooted in His word that I am as bold a witness.

  6. KC S says:

    The way Stephen was able to preach before he was stoned is something I often forgot about. What a witness to God Stephen was.

    I have a prayer request as well, today is my due date with my first baby and I would appreciate prayers for a smooth, healthy, fear/anxiety free labor and delivery. ❤️

  7. Ashley White says:

    Yes, amen. I definitely need to be filled with the Spirit and Faith in Christ. It’s something I’m working on day by day and I’m getting better.

  8. Erin Davis says:

    Hey, E. (My very best friends call me “E” so I love that that is your name/handle.

    Yes, I meant “take issue.” History records Stephen as “Stephen the Martyr.” That should not be his legacy. He was a man filled with the Spirit, faithful to His Savior, and filled with conviction and compassion. I’d love for us to rebrand him as Stephen the Faithful.

    Rooting for you!

    e

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *