Day 1: Paul Persecutes Stephen
Have you ever been driving down the interstate, see somebody pulled over by a police officer, and the thought comes to your mind, “I’m not 100% sure what they were doing, but they probably deserved to get caught.” Why do we sometimes have this ‘Guilty before proven innocent’ mindset?
This mindset is an oversimplified summary of what we learn about Paul early in the book of Acts. One of Jesus’ followers, Stephen, is experiencing extreme persecution for teaching about Jesus. Many people didn’t like this message, and Stephen was falsely accused of breaking some Old Testament laws. After attempting to defend himself, Stephen was found guilty of breaking the Law. He was then dragged out of the city and stoned to death.
As Stephen is being killed, we learn about a man named Saul (later referred to as Paul in the Bible). Acts 8:1 says, “And Saul approved of their killing him.” Unlike the example above, Saul likely knew exactly which laws Stephen had been accused of breaking. He likely knew that Stephen was a follower of Jesus. How does Paul respond? He begins by agreeing with the false allegations and death of Stephen.
As you read today, consider this: What does this passage about Paul and Stephen tell you about reality?
What does this passage about Paul tell you about reality? About humanity?
In what ways does this help you to identify with the story of Paul?
F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)
Read: 1 Samuel 1 & 2
Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method
Heavenly Father, I acknowledge there have been moments in my life when I have had a ‘Guilty before proven innocent’ mindset. This week, I pray that You will help me better understand that it is You and You alone who will have the final verdict in the lives of others. It is You and You alone who will make all things right. It is You and You alone who will judge.
Because of these truths, I pray that You will lead and guide me to think about justice differently. May I remember that some forms of justice are outside of my control. May I rest in knowing that You are the ultimate Judge and I am not. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Click here if you would like to provide feedback to help us make the daily devotional and scripture reading guide even better.