We've all come across this phrase. It’s usually used to suggest someone is slaving away at something (unfruitfully) and should stop. Or it may be that someone is complaining about how much hard work they are having to put in, especially if they don’t think it is worth it or that they are not being appreciated.
In a sense I agree with this. We are called to be fruitful, and if we are not being then we need to stop and figure out why. Likewise we should not do things with a complaining heart, or need acknowledgement every time we do a tiny little thing.
Being overworked, or being stuck in a negative mind-set are both things which come all too easily to many of us. Just look at #firstworldproblems (funny, because they are often true). Certainly this kind of martyrdom is a lot more common than the kind we have been hearing about on our current series on the book of Acts.
I find it an interesting contrast, because the phrase "Don't be a martyr" makes martyrdom a negative (but much less costly) thing than the biblical events, where being a martyr is seen as holy and positive (if scarier). People declaring the word of God unto death.
I doubt there are very many of us who are called to face physical death for our faith. But I do believe that in a sense, we are all called to be martyrs.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends”
Loving and serving one another sounds like an easy thing to do. The trouble is, in practise, it can be difficult. Sometimes we don’t like each other very much. Sometimes we just want a rest, some alone time, or a lie in on the morning when someone we know needs a helping hand. Laying down parts of our lives in order to love one another is hard because we battle our own discomfort.
In Acts 7 Stephen was at the point of no return. He’d made a stand for his faith; he’d healed the sick and spoken the gospel amongst the people. At the end of it all he got to look up to heaven and see Jesus. He laid down his life and even though it was hard he had no regrets. Because the love of God shone on him and out of him to the point where he couldn’t stop loving even those who killed him. Wow. I want to learn how to love like that.