59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 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.” (Acts 7:59–60, NKJV)
The heart of Stephen is revealed as his life is taken by cruel men and horrible means. Accused by false witnesses, he spoke the truth to people who were “stiff-necked uncircumcised in heart and ears,” who resisted the Holy Spirit by refusing the word He gave them through the prophets (Acts 7:51-52). As they rushed upon him in hatred and hurled stones at him in anger, Stephen sought God’s mercy for them. When someone sins against you, how do you react? With anger? With hatred? Do you try to harm them in some way? The way of the righteous is different. When wronged, the righteous trust in God, as Stephen did. He had the heart of compassion that each Christian must develop (Colossians 3:12). Even in the face of great injustice, rise above the fray. Keep your trust in the Lord Jesus. Keep your heart pure. Keep your conduct righteous. And, thank God for men like Stephen, who set such a worthy example to follow.
41 Let Your mercies come also to me, O Lord— Your salvation according to Your word. 42 So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me, for I trust in Your word. (Psalm 119:41–42)
The psalmist understood what is easily forgotten; God’s mercy is inseparably attached to God’s word. The mercy and grace of God that saves sinners is available to us all (Hebrews 2:9). Yet, God’s gracious mercy is only received by sinners according to the word of God. Sinners are saved “by grace, through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). Grace is God’s part; faith is our part. Salvation by God’s grace is given to the person who dies to sin, not to the person who continues to sin in violation of God’s word (Romans 6:1-2). Like the psalmist, we trust in God’s word to answer those who reproach us for relying on the mercies of God. We trust in God’s word to establish and secure our faith. It leads us to God’s mercies and assures our trust in Him to save us by His grace as we walk by faith, doing His word. Thank God for His merciful salvation and the word of His grace in which we put our truth (Acts 20:32).
I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses. (Isaiah 63:7, NKJV)
Isaiah breaks forth in praise of Jehovah as he remembers His dealings with Israel. Three reasons for giving Him abundant praise are offered. First, Jehovah is praised for His acts of loyal love (lovingkindnesses) which were richly given to Israel. Second, His goodness is great, and had been mercifully shown to them time after time after time. Third, the Lord is praised because His lovingkindnesses were not sparse, but plentiful. They are counted as a “multitude.” These same reasons continue to form the basis for our praise of Jehovah. His great goodness, abiding mercy and steadfast love is abundantly bestowed on “the Israel of God” today, the church of Christ (Gal. 6:16). Our praise ascends because of His great love, mercy and grace, bestowed on us in the Beloved (Eph. 1:6).
41 Let Your mercies come also to me, O LORD—Your salvation according to Your word. 42 So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me, for I trust in Your word. (Psalm 119:41-42)
The mercies of God are not ours to dispense as we see fit. The salvation of God is available to all, but only “according to Your word”. God’s word reveals salvation – not our feelings, opinions and desires. It is the height of presumption to expect God to save sinners in some way other than how His word teaches (Matt. 7:21-23). Trust God’s word to answer every reproach. Be faithful according to His word and the mercies of God will come to you (see Rom. 12:1).