The apostles ordained seven men as deacons to distribute food and aid to poor people. Stephen was one of them. The religious leaders stoned him to death.
When we Christian believers think about a martyr, what often comes to mind is things like courage and zeal.
If we compared ourselves with a martyr, we can feel pretty weak. We might say something like this: “Deacon Stephen loved Jesus enough to not reject the faith. But I wouldn’t have the courage to go through all that. I’m so weak. I’d probably reject the faith.”
Lets set those worries aside. The ability to be a martyr is often referred to as as a gift or charism. A believer who was given that gift is able to undergo suffering for the faith, while bringing glory to God.
It is speculated that most Christians do not receive the gift of martyrdom until right before it is needed, and not a moment before.
Stephen is our first example of a Christian believer who was murdered for his faith. Perhaps he received the gift of martyrdom mere moments before it was needed.
God-forbid, if any of us should be in a similar situation, perhaps God would give us that gift as well.
It’s never about ourselves or what we can do. Rather, its about our awesome God and what he does in and through us.
The Feast of Saint Stephen is observed each year on December 26.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.