“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples…” Read also- Acts 7:54- 8:1, and Acts 9:1-22
We read in these passages that Stephen was stoned for proclaiming the good news of Jesus, and even up to the point of his death, he was testifying of the grace and forgiveness of God. Saul was a willing participant in the death of Stephen, and, as we see in Acts 9:1 he was still a cauldron of seething anger and hatred. Yet even while he was breathing out murderous threats, God was preparing him for an incredible mission for which he alone was suited. Was Saul ready for this work when he was participating in the death of Stephen? How much was Saul affected by the behavior of Stephen as he was being murdered?
I am reminded of Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
This powerful verse is exemplified in this scenario. Stephen, while dying, gives grace and forgiveness to his persecutors. Saul, while in the midst of rage and blind hatred, is being chosen by God for a special mission, and total forgiveness of his murderous sins.
Saul’s rage may actually have been intensified by seeing Stephen’s strong faith and supernatural grace in his gruesome death. This is called “conviction”. Saul was being deeply affected by Stephen’s behavior, and he was chosen by God soon after that event to have a life transformation. We are ready for life transformation when the hard shell of our defenses gets cracked by events that refute those beliefs. The Spirit rang true to Saul at the time when Jesus chose to manifest himself to Saul on the road to Damascus.
What are the legacies that we leave to those around us? How many great things are in store for the world if we simply choose to display grace under fire? Only God knows, and that should be all we care about.
Prayer: Father, we do not know the legacies we leave by our current decisions and actions. Give us grace and strength to be the models for those we do not yet know, Amen.