Acts 7:54 – When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
I have been bitten by dogs, cats, and birds. I have also been bitten by a person or two in my younger years. But I have never suffered the kind of attack that is described in our Text for Today, at least not physically. I can only imagine what it would be like to have a crowd of vicious on-lookers rush upon me with the intent of literally tearing pieces of my flesh from my body. Yet that is precisely what took place in this attack on Stephen.
What could provoke such an attack? The answer is clearly seen in our Text for Today. They heard what Stephen said. It was truth. Truth can be sharp beyond imagination, and in this case, it was not only sharp, but both spiritually and emotionally painful for the hearers; so painful, in fact, that they attacked Stephen as would a pack of wolves.
But, my dear friend, while most of us may never have experienced this kind of physical attack, such toothy attacks as to destroy a person still occur, occur regularly, and occur far more frequently that many might imagine. I know they occur in the world. All one has to do is view broadcast news in its coverage of politics around the world. But what is horribly saddening is that such attacks occur daily in the church world, a place where such should NEVER be the case. Yet it is. Having been in ministry for almost five decades, with 28 of those years in a pastoral role, I can tell you first-hand that pastors face it almost continually. I would venture to say that most pastors are better roasted than the Christmas turkey, only more frequently, probably weekly. And they are not alone. ANYONE who serves the Lord with a pure heart, who speaks the absolute truth of God in love, who will not compromise their walk with the Lord, and who walks in the integrity of the Word of life will be the subject of such toothy attacks as gossip, back-biting, slander, and the like. While such may not pierce the flesh of those who come under attack, the intention of such attacks is just as destructive as those made on Stephen.
But take heed, dear friend. The lies, disparaging remarks, back-biting, gossip, slander, and rumor may even be multiplied exponentially, but you still have a promise from Father. “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that rises against you in judgment, you shall condemn.” God said it, and that settles it. Rest in His promise.
Manna for Today – Acts 7; Exodus 20:16 & 23:1; Leviticus 19:16; 2 Corinthians 12:20; Ephesians 4:29; 1 Timothy 5:19 & 6:4; James 1:26 & 4:11; Psalm 34:13; Proverbs 10:18 & 26:20-22; Isaiah 54:17