CHAMPION OF FREEDOM
Lord, our enemies are numerous and influential.
Read ACTS 6:8–15
8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.
11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”
12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”
15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good’ (Rom 12:21).
Stephen, ‘a man full of God’s grace and power’ (8), is opposed by the members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen, probably a synagogue of a group of Hellenist Jews who, being released from slavery and being foreign Jews, has now come to live in Jerusalem. Since they could not refute his teaching, they bring him to the Sanhedrin with false testimonies against his faith.
Many Christians have faced this problem of an attack on their faith, but Jesus promised that He would give his followers ‘words and wisdom’ which their adversaries would be unable to resist or contradict (Luke 21:15). In my work in India in the 1960s I stood for election for the Philips Cooperative Society, which gave loans to staff members. My opponent knew he could not beat me openly, so he went around saying, ‘Don’t vote for Pothan, as he is a Christian’. I refused to withdraw because I was not ashamed of being a Christian. I lost, and my opponent became the chairman, but he was involved in problems and resigned. The Hindu Union leaders approached me and said, ‘We want you to take over, as you are the only one we can trust’. I warned them that I would not practice favoritism and I ran the Society for two years under Christian ethical standards, putting down clear rules. I prayed before the meetings that God would control the other committee members. The next term I was elected unopposed. God is faithful and will protect and guide us.
Are you under pressure and opposed by others? Ask the Lord Jesus for help and He will provide it. We are His ambassadors wherever He places us. He will use us for His glory.
Pray for God’s help as you face problems or persecution in your situation.
Lord, we place ourselves in Your hand. Give us the wisdom to trust in You as we deal with our adversaries.