He Had the Face of an Angel
How do you respond when people talk trash about you? The tendency is to get mad, or even, or mope around like a victim. When I was called into the ministry, my pastor warned that I would need the hide of a rhinoceros. This was his way of letting me know that with God’s calling comes a lot of name calling, and to get used to it. Almost twenty years later, I’ve developed the hide of a salamander. Words still hurt more than sticks and stones.
How I wish I could be more like Stephen, the first Christian martyr. An all-out smear campaign was formed to ruin this dear fellow. Priests bribed followers to spread horrific lies. Officials in high places gladly joined in the trash talk. Rumors spread like wildfire. Stephen became the talk of the town. It wasn’t long before he found himself in court facing multiple charges of blasphemy.
In Bible times, blasphemy was a crime punishable by death. Though the charges against Stephen were all based on lies, his skin remained tough. Not only did he have the hide of a rhinoceros, he possessed the face of an angel.
“And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.” (Acts 7:15)
This is remarkable! Stephen had been falsely accused! Witnesses were recruited to lie against him. The jury had it out for him. Does Stephen have a scowl on his face? Is there vengeance in his eyes? Does he have a miserable countenance? Does he even look upset? Or worried?
Stephen had the face of a glorious angel. What was his secret? If you’ve read his story, you know. It is mentioned in the Book of Acts more than once that Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit. Likewise, we need to be filled with the Spirit. Only then will we be prepared for the attacks that come. Not just the personal attacks, but any hardship, heartbreak or hurt that comes our way.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (See Galatians 5:22-23) If we are truly filled with the Spirit, this is what will flow forth when we get slammed, whether by people or circumstances. Yes, that was Stephen’s secret – he was filled with the Spirit. When others used him as a punching bag, they only beat more fruit out of him. No wonder he had the face of an angel!
Fellow believer, let’s learn from Stephen’s example. Pray for that heavenly filling. And when you feel beat up, look up! Let the Lord’s light shine through your face. Allow the fruit to flow forth. It’s a powerful testimony. People will be watching, I assure you. Some of the priests who saw Stephen were later saved. Saul was there. I’ll bet he never forgot Stephen’s face. And we all know his story, how Saul became Paul, a champion of the faith. You never know how many Saul’s might be watching you. What fruit will they see in your life?
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Calvary Chapel of Austin Church
1601 Pecan St., Pflugerville, TX 78660