Summary: Love is free to those who receive it, but it can cost the giver a great deal.
Acts 7:55-60 “The Cost of Love”
There’s an old saying, “One person’s trash is another’s treasure.” How true this is. This fact of life is what fuels garage sales, thrift stores, and institutions like Goodwill and St Vincent de Paul. Most of us have also been in that situation where a friend has bragged about the great deal he or she got on a specific item and when we see the item we mutter to ourselves that we wouldn’t have paid a plug nickel for it.
We’re very cost conscious. We know the price of gas, the cost of vegetables and steaks, and perhaps the sale price on a shirt at Kohls. There are some intangibles like loyalty, bravery, or love where the costs are less well known. Sometimes there are hidden costs.
As we read about the first Christian martyr, Stephen, we catch a glimpse of the cost of following Jesus and the cost of love. There is much for us to consider in this story.
THE SACRIFICE OF DREAMS
We don’t know much about Stephen. We first meet him at the beginning of chapter six. We do know that Stephen was a Jew born outside of Israel. He was called a Hellenist. When a disagreement arose in the church—the Jewish/Greek Christians felt neglected by the Jewish Christians—Stephen was elected to help solve the problem. He became a deacon. Stephen is identified as a man who was full of faith and the Holy Spirit.
I doubt that it was Stephen’s goal to be a deacon. It was a position of service—not a very glamorous role. Stephen probably had a vocation that he would have liked to have pursued, but he was asked to serve and he did.
Stephen seems to also have been a skilled debater. When he conversed with fellow Greek Jews he would win arguments, which made those he defeated angry. They trumped up charges against him and brought him before the authorities. In many ways, Stephen’s story mirrors that of Jesus.
I’m pretty sure that it was not Stephen’s intention to be executed. Still, he did not hesitate to share his faith in the face of severe persecution.
Stephen understood that he was a follower of Jesus Christ. Jesus was leading and guiding him. Because of this, he could rest knowing that he was walking in God’s will. Stephen was willing to give up his goals and his dreams, because of his love for Jesus and also for God’s people.
LOSING ONE’S LIFE
Stephen paid the ultimate price because of his love for God and God’s people.
We offer our lives for a number of reasons. Some spend their entire life accumulating possessions and gathering wealth. Others give up their lives on a quest for knowledge. Love is not necessary the worst thing that we can end up spending our lives on.
I am reminded of the classic Christmas film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Jimmy Stewart’s character had great goals and dreams, but he always seemed to have something come up that caused him to put them on hold. He spent his life serving others. In the end, he discovered that such a life brought him more fulfillment and abundance than he could have had any other way.