SPEAKING THE TRUTH HURTS
“You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.” 54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 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. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 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. 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 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 7:51—60)
Speaking the truth always hurts. It hurts the hearers and the messengers as well. It is not only the hearers who feel the sting of the truth but also the deliverer who lays it all on the line to say what needs to be said. Stephen’s words were direct. Unlike today, many will shun direct communication for fear of repercussions. However, there is a time for soft answers, but also there is a time just to speak the plain truth that no one wants to say.
You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit. These are strong statements. These statements sound accusive. Even for me to hear someone label me with statements like these is hard to swallow. However, Stephen was right. It wasn’t a new issue. They have stifled the work of the Holy Spirit and the truth that He brings.
How can one deliver a strong message without being concerned or fearful of the consequences? I must admit it is quite a battle for the deliverer of that message. I concurred that it has to be done without fear. Stephen was able to do it because of these:
- Stephen knew the Israelite’s history. He is knowledgeable of their history and understands its implications. When speaking the truth, I must know the facts and understand the subject matter before confronting anyone.
- Stephen was FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. This is important for me to remember. I must always be full of the Holy Spirit and be led by him to say what I must say.
- Stephen SAW the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. It is good for me to remember that anytime I speak the truth, I must always remember that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit stand with me. I am not alone. I am with the Godhead on my side. I must be able to see this whenever I am confronted with an issue.
- We are called to be like Christ even in the face of difficulties and possibly with death.
- We must always pray for those who see us as their enemies.
I know I am nowhere near Stephen’s experience. I don’t even wish this for my journey. But today, I am grateful to be reminded that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are with me always. How often do I forget this truth? I want to be like Stephen, who does not shy back from speaking the truth even if it makes others uncomfortable. I want to be FULL OF THE SPIRIT and be led by him to do whatever he leads me to do. I want to do this daily.
Thank you, Jesus, for reminding me that I must not fear the consequences of speaking the truth. Please help me not to be like the Sanhedrins who knew the truth and yet were unwilling to hear it. Please help me when I hear the truth, be able to repent and return to your truth. I also ask that you embolden me with your Spirit always to speak the things that are in your heart without fear and compromising. I want to be a pleasing and obedient child to your will and purpose. Please teach me how to walk in truth and power. Lead and guide me today. Amen!