Actions Are Louder Than Words
If you’ve ever been treated poorly or unjustly accused, it can be tough to respond the right way. Our flesh wants to retaliate and defend our character. But that only leads to trouble. How would God want us to respond?
As we continue exploring the fruit of the Spirit – gentleness – we’ll discover how it goes beyond our words to affect our actions.
Gentleness goes beyond our words to affect our actions.
A thriving ministry
Remember Stephen – one of the very first deacons? He was known as a God-fearing man who was full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom. He had a great reputation. The Lord used him and six other deacons to spread the gospel:
And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.Acts 6:7
It must have been exciting to see the Lord at work in the hearts of so many people. But where the gospel is being preached and accepted, there will always be opposition.
Where the gospel is being preached and accepted, there will always be opposition.
A devious plan
It didn’t take long for Jewish men from a nearby synagogue to put a plan into motion to thwart the work. Maybe they were convicted by God’s Word, or a bit jealous of the success of Stephen’s ministry – whatever the reason, they bribed other men to lie about Stephen and accuse him of trying to change Moses’ customs:
Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. Acts 6:11
Their accusations were enough to cause a reaction not only among the people, but also among the elders and scribes. Stephen was taken before the council of the religious leaders. But his trial wasn’t exactly fair. The Jews had also gotten false witnesses to come to the stand with incredulous accusations.
It had to be tempting to deny all the accusations and defend himself. But instead, Stephen used the opportunity to point to the Lord. He went through the Old Testament accounts of Israel’s relationship with God. He spoke of the Jews continual rejection of God and His prophets. He spoke boldly of the fact that this council was guilty of rejecting Jesus, the Messiah:
Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.Acts 7:51
Tough words spoken with a genuine concern for the souls of his audience. Stephen resisted the temptation to defend himself or try to escape. The verdict? The council found Stephen guilty of blasphemy. His sentence? Death by stoning.
As he was taken out of the city and stoned, Stephen’s final prayer showcased the fruit of gentleness at work:
And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.Acts 7:60
Stephen was emulating his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who had forgiven those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34).*
You and I probably won’t find ourselves in a position like Stephen’s, but we will face difficult situations that will require us to make decisions. Will we choose to defend our reputation? Or yield to the Holy Spirit and choose to respond with the Christ-like fruit of gentleness?
Are you displaying the fruit of the Spirit, gentleness, in your actions? What step will you take to do so today?
Can I pray for you?
Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us a glimpse into the life of Stephen. It’s such a good reminder of how to live life for You. Help us yield to Your Spirit and display the fruit of gentleness in both our words and actions. In Jesus’ name, Amen.Leave a comment on my wall if this post helped you
* Ironically, it was Jesus’ death on the cross that made it possible for those who took part in His crucifixion to be saved.
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