The poet Elizabeth Landon said, “Tis a strange mystery, the power of words! Life is in them, and death.” When I was younger I heard about all the Christians that were being martyred in Russia. Men and women were being asked at gunpoint if they were Christian or not. If they said yes, they were immediately executed.
It’s only words, I thought. What a waste of life. After all, it’s only words. All they had to do was say, “No, I don’t believe in Christ” and they would live. They would be set free and get to go home. Then, afterwards they could just pray to God for forgiveness for rejecting Him. Sounds simple right? And everyone lives too. But for what? “What good does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36) See, when I was younger I didn’t understand the value of words.
Victor was a Christian of a good family at Marseilles, in France; he spent a great part of the night in visiting the afflicted, and confirming the weak; which pious work he could not, consistently with his own safety, perform in the daytime; and his fortune he spent in relieving the distresses of poor Christians.
He was at length, however, seized by the emperor’s Maximian’s decree, who ordered him to be bound, and dragged through the streets. During the execution of this order, he was treated with all manner of cruelties and indignities by the enraged populace. Remaining still inflexible, his courage was deemed obstinacy.
Being by order stretched upon the rack, he turned his eyes towards heaven, and prayed to God to endue him with patience, after which he underwent the tortures with most admirable fortitude. After the executioners were tired with inflicting torments on him, he was conveyed to a dungeon. In his confinement, he converted his jailers, named Alexander, Felician, and Longinus. This affair coming to the ears of the emperor, he ordered them immediately to be put to death, and the jailers were accordingly beheaded. Victor was then again put to the rack, unmercifully beaten with batons, and again sent to prison.
Being a third time examined concerning his religion, he persevered in his principles; a small altar was then brought, and he was commanded to offer incense upon it immediately. Fired with indignation at the request, he boldly stepped forward, and with his foot overthrew both altar and idol. This so enraged the emperor Maximian, who was present, that he ordered the foot with which had kicked the altar to be immediately cut off; and Victor was thrown into a mill, and crushed to pieces with the stones, A.D. 303.
~From Fox’s Book of Martyrs, Foxe, John
Words. Victor’s life and death was dependent upon words. A few words would have spared him any further torment and freed him to live on. He refused to speak those few words, that would have spared his earthly life but cost him his soul and “Heavenly Future.”
As tragic as Victor’s martyrdom was, I can’t help but think of his jailers. First, he wore out his executioners, I can’t imagine what he endured. But then after being thrown back into the dungeon, he converted his 3 jailers; Alexander, Felician, and Longinus.
These three men found the saving knowledge of Christ, put their trust in Him, were saved, and are now in Heaven. All because Victor refused to speak a few words against his God, and instead shared a few words about the glory and grace of his God. Words are powerful indeed!
“So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:32-39
Keep the Faith! God Bless, Zach Williams