Tolerance is a popular word in our world today and although Wikipedia defines the term as “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry” it seems that the practice of tolerance is grossly misconstrued in our society, those whose opinions and beliefs are unpopular, under a hailstorm of negative attention.
I can’t help but wonder if there are some among us today that are feeling the sting of persecution, or carrying the burden of knowing that a loved one is facing rejection, hostility, or outright hatred at the hands of someone who disagrees with you or your beliefs in the workplace, among acquaintances, or even in the home. They need courage, and the book of Acts gives us a glimpse at one of the most beautiful scenes of encouragement in the middle of being ostracized that we can imagine.
Stephen was a faithful man, set apart to oversee the important task of distribution of food to the needy in the early church while also being a man of wisdom and grace. He would eventually find himself before the leaders of the day, falsely accused, and given an opportunity to express his defense. He stood among them, speaking unwavering truth, knowing that he was uttering his death sentence. His final words brought forth such anger from the antagonistic groups who listened, that they stoned him to death. The miracle of this event is that Stephen looked up in the midst of his suffering and he “saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” Throughout Scripture, many have written and referred to Jesus sitting at the right hand of God. Only in the case of Stephen being stoned for his testimony of faith in Jesus do we see Him standing. Dear one, are you faced with some measure of persecution for doing the right thing? You don’t do it alone. You have a loving Savior who stands for you. Lift up your head today and see that Christ is on His feet when you feel like falling on your knees. Those who hold stones in their hands need our love and forgiveness, and we need the reminder that it is not ourselves that are being rejected, but Christ.
What ways do you use to teach your children humility?
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