“A Christian is a mind through which Christ thinks; a heart through which Christ loves; a voice through which Christ speaks; a hand through which Christ helps.” – George Mueller.
Every Christian touched by God’s unconditional love and amazing grace wants to be the mind, heart, voice, and hand of God to those around us. We want to reflect God’s unconditional love and amazing grace. Grace is defined as undeserved acceptance and love received from another. It is a word that is truly as deep as it is wide and any discussion on grace should begin and end with God. Grace is who God is and what He does. But how does a person practically live out grace in their own lives? What does a man who is practicing and portraying grace in everyday life look like? One example in the Bible is Stephen. His story is found in Acts 6-7.
Acts 6:5 says, “…and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit…” Several verses later we read, “So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too. Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people. (Acts 6:7-8) That didn’t sit too well with the religious leaders.
As a result, Stephen was on trial for his life. He was accused of preaching that the sacred institutions of the nation were to be destroyed, that is, the land, the temple, the law, and the customs. Stephen defended himself by reviewing Israel’s history. In essence, Stephen was preaching the gospel to the court.
“The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 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!”
That didn’t go over too well with the religious leaders, so they stoned him. In the very process of being executed, he responds with forgiveness. Acts 6:8 says, “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 6:8 (MSG) reads “Stephen, brimming with God’s grace and energy, was doing wonderful things among the people, unmistakable signs that God was among them.” God help us that by the end of 2019 that we are “brimming with God’s grace and energy.” That we would live a life of grace.
- Which of the character qualities that Stephen had do you most need to work on? How will you go about working on it?