Acts 7:57-58 – At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. (NIV)
Sometimes people can't handle the truth. I know that I hate being criticized, especially when it's true. I get all defensive and begin to fluster. I get angry inside, and I want to go on the offensive, beating down my opponent with strong words and half-truths, which only make things worse. And if those mechanisms don't work, then I turn to the old tried-but-true tradition of blocking out what people say or write. If I can't hear them, if I don't see them, then I can get on and do what I want to do.
Does it sound familiar? It's a human failing, and sadly, it's one that we all are guilty of. In the context of today's Scripture passage, a whole host of religious people are being told the truth by Stephen, and they can't handle it. He's telling them that they've murdered the Messiah and that they are guilty of resisting the Holy Spirit. He's letting them know what they have done is wrong, and they just can't stand it.
They screech and yell and cover their ears, so that they don't have to listen to Stephen. And when he doesn't shut up or go away, they resort to violence — the grand human solution to all our persistent problems. When we can't handle the truth, we bash the truth-sayer, by killing him — in our hearts, our minds, or even with our hands.
To accept the truth is to accept responsibility. To accept responsibility is to recognize that we have failed. To know that we have failed is to put ourselves into a position of humility. And to be humiliated means that we need to go to God to confess our sins and look to Him for mercy, before we can find peace for our agitated souls.
Today, we may find ourselves in unfavourable situations, amongst people who will tell us that what we are doing is wrong. The question we face is this: will we continue to justify our actions and ignore the criticism, or will we choose to change our ways in the light of the truth?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You know us completely, and we cannot hide the truth from You. We are far from perfect, and we make many mistakes. In Your mercy, forgive our faults, and by Your grace, restore us to Your favour. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.