Planting Seeds

in a surprising way.

Acts 7:57–8:1a

Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Now Saul was consenting to his death.

Stephen shows his Christian eyes in his final prayer, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.”

This prayer presumably didn’t convert anyone at that moment, but it planted some major seeds. No one who heard him is going to forget his amazing words. Those seeds will never stop trying to sprout.

And Stephen did the best he could in planting those seeds when he cried out with a loud voice.

Imagine Saul going through the rest of his life with Stephen’s last words ringing in his ears.

Stephen uses a powerful apologetic tool here—the element of surprise. In praying for his attackers, he’s forcing them to wonder how what they’re witnessing is even possible.

He’s just not supposed to do that.

So, we encounter another great irony with Christian Eyes. If you don’t get distracted, what you do can be distracting to others. They get distracted from their normal way of thinking and may start wondering what they’re missing.

This applies to even the most mundane of situations. For example, suppose you’re in a casino (just passing through, of course) and you see a man playing the slots.

But instead of staying at the same slot machine like a normal person, he plays only one pull and then moves to another machine. Furthermore, he doesn’t just pull the lever, he does something unusual with it (jiggles it, or pushes it up, or whatever). Who cares? Right?

No, he’s got your attention. What does he know that you don’t? Is he a repairman checking for a defect? Or is he just trying to make money off a defect?

This illustration is silly, but it shows the distractive power of doing the unexpected. Even in this simple case, an unusual behavior is still enough to distract. Bigger surprises are even more distracting.

Christian eyes lead to Christian decisions. Stephen’s decision to pray for his tormentors, instead of saying something “normal,” should give everyone pause.

What makes it so powerful is that there’s no counterargument. It proves his faith is genuine.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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