Courage is not the absence of fear. It’s the willingness to face the fear. The willingness to stand in one’s convictions rather than settle for the convenience of the moment.
Stephen was a prime example of courage in the most practical sense of the word. He was the first martyr for his faith in Jesus. His name literally translates to “crown,” but he understood the meaning of his name wasn’t for a crown that tarnishes. It was for one that was eternal.
To understand his life, Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. taught from Acts 6 where Stephen was chosen by the apostles as one of the seven men in the daily distribution of food to widows. Here was a man who found purpose in a seemingly meager position. What could have been a burden became a blessing as God’s word spread from what he contributed. He freely shared the love of Christ and was stoned to death for doing so.
“Whatever you are covered in, you will ultimately get carried away with.”– RICH WILKERSON JR.
Meanwhile, we learn about Saul, intense persecutor of Christians, who had people laying down coats at his feet in approval for Stephen’s stoning. Saul wasn’t the one committing the heinous act, but he stood there and did nothing to intervene.
Are you part of the answer or part of the problem? What coats of approval are you covered in? Is it one of these three?
COAT OF HYPOCRISY
This is where we pretend as something we’re not – where we choose the actions that aren’t aligned to our beliefs.
COAT OF CRITICISM
Some folks are comfortable being critics than encouragers. The former doesn’t require much effort while the latter requires a deliberate action on how we respond.
COAT OF OFFENSE
We could choose to live offended or in a state of forgiveness. We need to remind ourselves it is to our honor to ignore an offense.
There are things in God’s word that reveal what we’re called to do that will challenge what the world tells us to do. Identify where you’re making your own rules and living the world’s version of your story instead of God’s.
And before you go thinking you’re too far gone for God to use you, remember that Saul later became Paul. One of the greatest preachers of Jesus’ message. If God showed grace in redeeming Saul, don’t you think there’s a piece of his promise for you? Don’t you think he can turn your mess into his message?
Trade your coats for the crown of life and ask yourself, where am I fighting against God’s calling? It’s only living aligned with him that you’ll find joy and fulfillment.
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