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: 57-60)
Although Stephen was only a deacon who managed food, he was a man of great faith, filled with the Holy Spirit, and full of wisdom. Stephen preached about Jesus Christ in front of the people with wisdom and the Holy Spirit, but the people were extremely angry and stoned him. So he became the first martyr of the New Testament church.
Paul witnessed this whole process. After Paul was illuminated by the Lord on the Damascus Road, he repented and believed, and he became another Stephen. Not only did Stephen have the enthusiasm and courage to witness to Jesus Christ in front of the people regardless of his life and safety, but Paul was also finally martyred for the gospel like Stephen.
In my opinion, Stephen's testimony also had an indelible impact on him. After Paul believed in the Lord, he would have certainly kept thinking of Stephen's testimony, and he would naturally follow him.
Stephen's testimony could be said to have created the greatest apostle in the history of the church. Not only was the apostle Paul influenced by Stephen ’s testimony, but all the saints throughout the ages also continued to imitate Stephen ’s style. Some people even took their spiritual names to be Stephen. Today, there are many witnesses, like clouds, surrounding us. The testimony of their lives not only encourages the saints of all ages but also constantly inspires us to walk the way of heaven.
Here we can see that the testimony of a person ’s life has a huge impact. But not all people ’s lives are inspiring, maybe some even cause others to fall.
A bad testimony may cause many people to fall, but a good testimony can inspire many people. Perhaps your testimony can also, like Paul’s, inspire another person to love the Lord, or inspire others to serve the Lord. Even if none of this is true, it will at least inspire more people seek after eternal life. In the long story of the church’s history, how many people who love the Lord have been inspired by the testimony of others, and how many people who were weak have been inspired by the testimony of others and stood up again?
Therefore, as a Christian, you must not underestimate your own testimony. Especially church leaders should have a good testimony, follow the teachings of the Bible, and live out the life of Jesus Christ.
(Note: The author of this article is a full-time co-worker of a grassroots church in Fujian province. )
- Translated by Abigail Wu