Steadfast is defined as resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering. A few synonyms of steadfast are loyal, committed, devoted, constant, and faithful. We see the word steadfast over and over again both in the Old and New Testament. It’s often used to refer to God’s love for us. Steadfast, in this context, speaks of how God’s faithful love for us is never-ending. But what does steadfast look like on our side of this loving relationship?
I want to tell you about a fellow by the name of Stephen. Most of what we know about Stephen is found in Acts chapters 6 and 7. Stephen loved the Lord. Stephen was steadfast. He was devoted, committed, and loyal. Stephen shows up in the Word when the disciples were looking for men to step forward and help distribute supplies to the widowed women. Out of the seven men chosen, Stephen is the only one whose character is especially noted. Stephen is referred to as being a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit. The Word tells us that many signs and wonders followed Stephen’s ministry. His wisdom and devotion to the Lord were evident to all who saw him. There were people who weren’t happy with Stephen and what he was preaching. They said Stephen was blasphemous against the law. He was taken to court where he was sentenced to death.
When someone speaks out against you, what is your first reaction? Usually, this causes our flesh to rise up with great emotion and attempt a takeover. Anger, resentment, unforgiveness. They all call to us in these situations saying “Pick me! Pick me!” I’m sure those thoughts and feelings welled up in Stephen, even if only for a moment. But remember, Stephen was full of faith. Stephen was full of Holy Spirit. When given a chance to explain himself in court, Stephen chose to remain steadfast as a servant and son to his Lord and Father. It is of the utmost importance that we spend time daily seeking the Lord. Spending time in the Word, in prayer, and in worship is how we build up our steadfastness. Pray in tongues if you can, and if you haven’t yet, pray for it! You must maintain a steadfastness in your relationship with God.
Being steadfast (devoted, constant) in your relationship with God is what will sustain you when emotions try to overcome you. When you’re steadfast in your commitment to the Lord you’ll hear another voice over the anger, resentment, and unforgiveness. This voice, the Holy Spirit, will offer you peace instead of anger, contentment instead of resentment, and quick forgiveness instead of grudge-filled unforgiveness.
When we take a look at Stephen’s death in Acts chapter 7, we see which voice he listened to. Stephen was stoned to death on the outskirts of the city. As they stoned him, he fell to his knees. He used his last breath to cry out to God. We might imagine ourselves in this situation and think of what we would cry to God. Would it be a plea for help? A cry to live and not die? Stephen’s last words were “Lord, do not charge them with this sin”.
What strikes me most about Stephen’s last words is that you can clearly see the condition and posture of his heart. Stephen didn’t pray for himself. When the persecution came, he had already chosen to follow the Holy Spirit. So even in these horrible conditions. Even with human judgment upon him. Even as he was being stoned to death. Stephen, full of faith and full of the Holy Spirit, was at peace. He had peace, he had contentment, and he had forgiveness for those rising up against him. He knew that they were not being led by the Holy Spirit. He recognized that they were stuck in anger and resentment.
My prayer for each of you reading this is that you would make a conscious choice today to pursue steadfastness. That you would take a stand in your life that from this day forward you will make greater efforts to be faithful to the One who is most faithful to you. I pray that you would understand the power that comes from a steadfast relationship with God. I pray that the Holy Spirit will quicken you toward forgiveness and love. That you will hear His voice clearly directing your steps, and you’ll have the strength to follow that direction. And that, like Stephen, you will be full of the Holy Spirit, to the point that you have total peace no matter your circumstances.