Stark Contrast of Behavior Under Pressure

STARK CONTRASTS IN THE WAY PEOPLE BEHAVE WHEN PROVOKED… EVER OBSERVE IT? Especially when it involves the proclamation of the gospel and the conviction of sin that the Holy Spirit brings. However it can be observed in any situation where you have a godly Christian – full of the Spirit; in contrast to another individual, self-righteous and arrogant, provoked and angry. Hey, there ought to be a contrast – and there often is!

I read the account of such a contrast this morning during my time of “coffee with the Lord”… Acts 7:54-60 in your Bible.

Stephen had just preached a powerful message that traced God’s grace and goodness through Israel’s history… Then he got to the part of the message that addressed human sin and rebellion and dealt with the issue of the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus Christ…

And what followed was two stark differences of response!

The response of those who had rejected and crucified Christ: “When they heard these things they were enraged, and ground their teeth at Stephen… They cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and rushed together at him. They cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul [who later was powerfully confronted by Christ himself, and became a devoted follower of Jesus – Apostle Paul]

Oh but what a contrast followed from godly Stephen! What a model for believers under pressure, provoking behavior, and persecution! Here it is… But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God! And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God! … And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’ And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep [he died]”

How similar to the response of Jesus Christ, our Savior, in His death (read Luke 23:32-43)! Christians through the centuries who have had to withstand unjust accusation, persecution and even martyrdom have exhibited the behavior of Stephen and their Savior!

Oh Lord, with the enablement of your Holy Spirit, that produces Christ-like love within our hearts, may my responses under pressure and persecution by like Stephen’s! I KNOW WHAT SIDE OF THE CONTRAST I WANT TO BE ON – MORE LIKE JESUS!

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