One of the best things about reading the Bible in various translations and paraphrases is that you see things you may have missed reading it the same way every time. I was struck by this again last week.
As I was reading the account of Stephen preaching to the Jewish leaders, the way the New King James Version said they responded to his message caught my attention. After noting that Stephen was full of faith and power, had done great wonders and signs among the people, and that the Council had seen his face as the face of an angel, he accused them of resisting the Holy Spirit and persecuting the prophets as had their fathers. He then stated that they had become the betrayers and murderers of the Just One that had been foretold. His rebuke was obviously very harsh, and when they heard these things, they were cut to the heart.
That phrase, “cut to the heart,” sounded familiar to me. I had just read the same phrase a couple of days earlier.
On the Day of Pentecost, after witnessing the miraculous activity of the Holy Spirit, Peter boldly stated that those present had crucified Jesus, the one God had made both Lord and Christ. When they heard it, they too had been cut to the heart. My NASV used different phrases to say the same thing, so I had missed the similarity. What struck me, however, was not the similarity, but the difference in their response.
When Peter’s hearers were cut to the heart they responded by crying, “Brethren, what must we do?”, and 3,000 of them were baptized. When Stephen’s hearers were cut to the heart they gnashed their teeth, and stoned him to death. The difference wasn’t the rebuke. It wasn’t even the emotional response to the rebuke. It was what they did after coming under conviction.
This got me thinking how we are not responsible for the way people respond to the reproofs and rebukes that come from God’s word. Even If we present the truth with grace and the right motive, as I’m sure both Peter and Stephen did, they may or may not receive it positively.
Perhaps even more important, however, is to make certain that we respond to rebukes from God’s word positively.
God Bless, Rick