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. – Acts of the Apostles 7:59-60 ESV
Sounds very familiar. Like what Jesus cried from the cross. Father forgive them. (Luke 23 vs 34)
Stephen was a man full of the spirit. He was chosen by the apostles because he was a man full of the spirit. (Acts 6 vs 5) And in the short time we read of Stephen in Acts. We read of how he was compelled to declare the truth of God so zealously that it brought him his death (Acts 7 vs 51-53). What made him so bold? Why was he so courageous? The Holy Spirit made him bold. Not bold in a “bold as brass”, big character worldly sort of way. But bold with courage and conviction to declare the truth of God even to the point of facing his own death. Just like He did in Stephen, the Holy Spirit gives us a deep conviction that the gospel holds a much greater weight than the opinions of man.
In God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? – Psalms 56:11 ESV
When we are full of the spirit, Christ is displayed through us to the world. We don’t just do things or say things because it’s “what a Christian should do” or because it’s “what Jesus would do”.
Stephen cried out as he was stoned to death, Lord do not hold this sin against them. He didn’t do this because it made him feel more right with God. He didn’t do it because it sounded “spiritual” or humble. He said it because the Holy Spirit empowered him to show true grace. He was concerned for them and pleaded with God for them. He had a fear of the Lord far greater than his fear of man. He knew that God is Holy and will not tolerate sin and he knew that there would be punishment for their sin. So he is begging God. Forgive them. They are blind. Don’t hold this against them. Can you imagine being able to show this much grace in the face of persecution? Stephen isn’t plotting revenge. He’s pleading their case before God as he is persecuted. Sound very familiar?
Our Lord was crucified, dealt a horrible death by the ones he came to save. Jesus our saviour is pleading our case right now. (Romans 8 vs 34)
The Holy Spirit in Stephen makes the deepest cries of his heart line up with that of our Lord and saviour!
The Holy Spirit in Stephen compels him to boldly declare the gospel. Stephen would not have been able able such grace and zeal had it not been for the Holy Spirit. He was empowered for such a task. Grace would not have been the overflow of Stephens own heart had he not been full of the spirit.This is completely the Holy spirits work. We need this filling of the spirit. And we shouldn’t take it lightly!
We need to fervently pray for the Holy Spirit and when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we will do things for the kingdom we never would have managed in our own strength. The fruit of the spirit flowing from a person is completely the work of the Holy Spirit. Don’t kid yourself into believing that the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5 vs 22-23) comes from your own fleshy nature. We need the Holy Spirit. We desperately need the Holy Spirit.
So let’s humble ourselves. Let’s plead with the Lord to fill us with his spirit that we might bring glory to him in all that we do. Especially when enduring trials and testing. We absolutely need the Holy Spirit if we want to bring Glory to Christ and not to ourselves.
We’re in a desperate state of need for Him.