When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this (Stephen accusing them of murdering Jesus and not obeying the law), they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:54-60)
I don’t think of myself as having a prideful spirit. But fairly recently my children told me I could be gentler at times. I try to be kind and calm and think for the most part I am, so their accusation made me angry—not to the point of being out of control by gnashing my teeth, yelling at the top of my voice, or covering my ears. But I wasn’t gentle in my response. So their accusation was correct. My prideful spirit made me angry.
Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, responded to persecution like Jesus did. His words to his murderers resembled Jesus’ words on the cross. “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” Instead of being angry that his persecutors were stoning him, Stephen looked up to heaven. God rewarded him by giving him spiritual eyes, so he could see God’s glory.
The men stoning Stephen experienced heated anger and removed their cloaks. Saul approved Stephen’s stoning and protected the clothing of the men persecuting Stephen. Luke mentions that to give us hope. Most of us aren’t as callous as Saul was. Yet the Holy Spirit was able to change Saul’s heart so he could fulfill God’s plan to become an apostle.
God will reward us too when our response to anger and persecution is to look up to heaven and examine our hearts. When we pray to become more like Jesus, the Holy Spirit will change us. There is hope I’ll become gentler.
Father God, I praise You for Your glory. Let Your light shine through me. Help me be a gentle soul like Jesus so You can use me for a greater role in Your kingdom. I pray in Jesus’ precious and holy name. Amen.
2 thoughts on “Daily Devotional Acts 7:54-60 – Can God change the heart of man? – Free Online Bible Study – Commentary in easy English – Day 511”
God can change our hearts. Is there an addiction to anger? How difficult is it to release anger and replace it with a gentle tongue? I don’t feel that this is an easy thing to do even with God’s assistance. Do you feel most people experience anger? I think that most people do. Then the question is for me, how do you channel the anger into something more positive? Some people just have a gentle approach. Some people get mad and yell. Some people get violent. If you are person that is filled with rage, can that ever change? Does it all have to do with how you are raised? Lots of questions! Have a beautiful Sunday. Love you!
Anger is passed down from generation to generation. It is hard to convince people who have anger issues and were brought up in a home where yelling and/or violence was used to punish that yelling and violence is wrong and no one deserves that as a punishment. Anger is the primary emotion that makes us sin, and I believe everyone experiences it. From reading the gospels we know that Jesus got angry when people were using the temple as a market. He overturned the tables the men were using for display and money exchanging, but He didn’t hurt anyone with His words or actions. His anger was controlled and appropriate because people were wrongly using the temple. It is extremely difficult to replace anger with a gentle tongue. It is much easier not to get angry at all. God will help us get rid of our anger issues. I had a bad temper and always yelled at my kids for which I’m extremely sorry for. I have apologized to my kids and have told them I was wrong and hope they don’t pass it down to the next generation. God has helped me with my anger issues, and I rarely get angry any more. Through God everyone has the ability to become gentle. We are all supposed to strive for the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. God will help us attain these if we ask Him to. So yes, a person filled with rage can change. You can channel anger into something more positive by leaving the room and praying but like I said it is much easier to train yourself with God’s help not to get angry in the first place. You really have to want to make the change so your anger isn’t passed down to future generations. What I have written is based only on my opinion and experience, not on research. Have a great Monday. Love you, Jody