One of the early examples of faith, and the cost of faith, can be seen in the life of Stephen.
The infilling of the Holy Spirit led the disciples to live unselfish, godly lives. Their faith led them to obedience. At times the spiritual warfare was fierce, but Jesus, their Savior and Lord, was by their side to strengthen their faith. They were stoned, imprisoned, burned at the stake, and shipwrecked. Their obedience also often came with an unusually high price. Many of the disciples suffered a martyr’s death.
In Acts 7, Stephen preached a magnificent sermon outlining the history of Israel. He described the experience of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, and Solomon. Throughout his appeal, Stephen describes God’s faithfulness in the light of Israel’s unfaithfulness. Stephen concludes his sermon by charging that the religious leaders of Israel violated God’s covenant and resisted the influence of the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51-52).
What happened to Stephen because of His witness for Jesus? What does this teach us about what the cost of faithfulness can be? Acts 7:54-60.
Stephen was obedient to the call of God and faithful to the mission of God, even to the point of death. Though we might not all be called to die for our faith, we need to be so committed to our Lord that, if we were called to that, we would not back off but, like Stephen, remain faithful to the end. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that someone reading these words right now will one day have to give up his or her life in the cause of the Lord.
What would happen were you to face a life-threatening situation because of your powerful witness? Though you might not be able now to predict what you would do, how have your past actions revealed the way in which you might react if one day you were brought into such a situation?