By Nick Batzig
Almost nothing is so painful as being falsely accused when you are seeking to do what is right before the Lord. We are often tempted to pull back from our service to Him and His people when that happens. Nevertheless, we learn from Stephen that even when that happens God’s blessing and Spirit rest upon us. The outcome toward our body or our reputation may not be what we wish it were, but the outcome will be a further witness to the glory and truth of Christ.
Sometimes people will hate you even though you are right. This was the case with the Jewish hostility to Jesus and the apostles. It was also the case with the persecution of the first Christian martyr, Stephen. While he was preaching the gospel and performing wondrous signs, Luke tells us that some of the people in the synagogue, “were unable to stand up against his wisdom and the Spirit by whom he was speaking” (Acts 6:10). In anger, they brought him to the religious leaders. Since they could not overcome his persuasive speech about Jesus and the gospel, they decided to falsely accuse him of blasphemy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Stephen was in fact, serving the true and living God. He was doing what was most pleasing to God—namely, bearing witness to what God had done by sending Christ to secure the salvation of sinners.
Luke tells us that as the religious leaders in Israel were examining Stephen and bringing him to trial, “his face was like the face of an angel” (v.15). This is similar to the experience that Moses had when he came down from the mountain and his face was shining with the reflected glory of God. It was also related to the glory that emanated from Jesus during the transfiguration. The glory of God was resting on His people. Jesus was imparting to Stephen something of the glory that was innately His by virtue of the fact that He is God.
When God calls us to bear witness to the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of a dark and perishing world, we do not need to fear what men will do to us. They may falsely accuse us. They may put us on trial—as they did to so many of the godly men and women who went before us. They may put us to death—as they would do to Stephen. However, we can be confident that God will give us the wisdom and the Spirit to bear witness to Christ. He will sustain us to the end—even as He imparts His glory to us.