If you want to be a faithful witness, you need to be prepared to have your faith tested. We learn from Acts 7:54-8:1 that Stephen, a man of honor and faithfulness, was tested and ultimately put to death for the message he delivered. Despite the criticism, Stephen saw, appealed to, and trusted Jesus. We are here to suffer and serve the world, NOT to be celebrated by it. Our God is never surprised when we are hated and we shouldn’t be either.
- Todd spoke of many men whom, by someone else’s faithfulness, grew to become the great messengers of His Word. Hebrews 13:7 encourages us to remember our leaders who spoke the Word of God to us and calls us to imitate their lives. Who are the unsung heroes in your life that have faithfully shared with and/or discipled you? Who are you discipling right now? If you aren’t discipling anyone, what is one step you can take this week to faithfully share God’s love with someone else?
- Let us be found faithfully delivering the mail. Todd used the illustration of mailmen who deliver messages day in and day out. God uses us as Christ-followers in the same way. Oftentimes we are tested amidst the praise AND criticism of others in faithfully delivering. Read Proverbs 27:21 and Mark 4:26-29. How do you respond when others are praising you? Do you look to yourself or God as the source of your prosperity? Ask your community group how they would answer this question for you.
- You will be criticized if living faithfully. Proverbs 27:3 describes the difficulty of being around a fool who is constantly poking at or provoking you. Have you ever considered that your response in these moments, if patient and kind, could lead someone to knowing more of who Christ is? Do you have a co-worker, family member, or friend whom you could engage missionally with despite their criticism or persecution of you? In what ways can you serve them this week?
- Unfortunately, we sometimes judge an individual’s obedience based on the outcome of their life. As an example for why we shouldn’t, remember how Stephen’s death in Acts 7:58 was not in vain. Luke 12:8 additionally affirms that our Savior sees us even when no one else does. Are you willing to stand firm in truth, knowing that truth divides (Luke 12:51-53)? How can you use the influence God has given you individually and as a community group to stand firm and speak truth during our current presidential election?
- God doesn’t make mistakes. He scatters us for the purpose of sowing so that growth occurs, but we must rely on Him at all times. Read Colossians 4:2 and pray together for those who persecute you and for the people whom God has put you around right now.