Love never fails. —1 Corinthians 13:8
The power of love is what it achieves. Stephen demonstrated the immense power of love when he prayed for the people stoning him: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60). This is what God wanted—this display of love.
Stephen, who almost certainly was Paul’s role model, is one of the most outstanding people in the Bible. I cannot express how much I admire him. And then I examine his mastery of the Old Testament (Acts 7) and observe how he put his opponents in the succession of the disobedient in ancient history: “You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” (v. 51). Although no one was immediately converted, never had one spoken with such power.
The whole time he spoke, the pure love of God flowed through him and from him. The proof of this was his concern for them, not himself, when they were stoning him. He, therefore, fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” It was a virtual reenactment of Jesus’ prayer on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
The love of Christ that resided in Stephen got to Paul. Paul wasn’t able to shake off the power of love that Stephen showed, which led to the conversion of the greatest of the apostles.
Again, when Paul and Silas were in prison, they sang praises to God, and love took over in extraordinary power. God affirmed them with such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. Even the jailer was suddenly converted!
The one who is filled with love allows the omnipotent God to move in. It becomes vulnerable, that is, the one governed by love is losing the battle to win the war. That’s power.
Excerpted from Just Love (Christian Focus Publications Ltd., 1997).