In the seventh chapter of Acts we have recorded for our profit the great sermon of Stephen, directed to the "stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears" (Acts 7:51a). Stephen declared, "ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye" (Acts 7:51b). Some might consider Stephen a harsh, cruel, and unloving preacher but his actions demonstrate different.
After this strong and mighty warrior of the faith preached his hear out, "they gnashed on him with their teeth" (Acts 7:54b). The people could not handle the simple yet powerful words of truth given by the Holy Spirit, and declared by Stephen! Their response, after they were "cut to the heart" (Acts 7:54a) was to immediately "stop their ears" (Acts 7:57). Why this mean brutality? Why the hatred towards this courageous defender of truth? What had Stephen done to them, besides declare the things of God? They "cast him out of the city, and stoned him" (Acts 7:58).
Some of the saddest words recorded by divine inspiration within this chapter are found in Acts 7:59, "And they stoned Stephen." They murdered this brave spiritual hero. He was a martyr for Christ and an example for all to follow. While they stoned him, Stephen cried out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" and "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge" (Acts 7:59-60). When he "had said this, he fell asleep" (Acts 7:60). Although the words of Stephen were pointed directly at the sin which the people had committed, he spoke from a motive of love. Did the sermon of Stephen offend the people? Yes! The hearers chewed on him with their teeth, ran and jumped on top of him, cast him out of the city and stoned him. The lack of love and humility was not from Stephen's side, rather from the hearers upon that tragic day in history. Stephen proved his love, while the people proved that their hearts were dishonest.
Today, two thousand years later, we must ever be mindful of the words found within the book of Revelation some thirteen times, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches" (Rev. 2:7). Think on these things.