As you have all probably realised by now my name is Steven, an alternative spelling of Stephen. There was a time that I wondered what my name meant so I looked it up in a dictionary of names and their meanings. I found out that it is Greek in origin and means literally, ‘crowned one.’ Great I thought, my name has kingly meaning. It was only later, when I was talking to my dad about the meaning of my name that I discovered that the reference to being crowned in relation to St Stephen, the first martyr, is a reference to being crowned with the crown of martyrdom. This was not so appealing as being crowned with a royal crown as we understand it being a part of the royal family who rules a particular country here on earth!
It was not until many years later, when I began to study the lives of the martyrs and saints that I began to understand that the crown of martyrdom is far greater than any crown that the kings and queens of this earth will wear. To receive the crown of martyrdom is to receive the crown of eternal life! It is to become a child of God and to reign with Him in heaven. It was starting to look like a much more appealing sort of a crown again!
As I continued to study I realised that it was unlikely that I would literally become a martyr for the faith and I began to see that the crown of martyrdom which I was to wear was the call to holiness, bit by bit, day by day, becoming fashioned in the image and likeness of Christ my Savior. This is why the account of Stephen’s martyrdom so closely mirrors the Passion of Jesus. The author is telling us that we ALL must model our lives on the life of Christ if we intend to wear the crown of everlasting life. Jesus is the model of Christian living. His selflessness and generosity in giving all that He has must become for us the starting point of our selflessness and generosity in obedience to His will. Let us pray that we will all become martyrs for the faith by growing in holiness every day.
What are the areas in my life where I can grow in holiness? What are the little things that will be easy to change so that I will be encouraged and strengthened to tackle the bigger areas later on?
Holy Spirit, without you, growth in holiness is impossible. I therefore beseech you to help me in my struggles against sin and temptation so that one day I will be able to wear the crown of everlasting life.