Job 3-4 Acts 7:44-60
“They took him out of the city and began to throw stones at him to kill him. And those who told lies against Stephen left their coats with a young man named Saul. While they were throwing stones, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ He fell on his knees and cried in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ After Stephen said this, he died.” (Acts 7:58-60 NCV)
The priests and the Pharisees were enraged at Stephen’s words. He’d turned the conversation around from their accusations against him and his accusations against them cut deeply – mainly because they were true. When Stephen spoke truth to power, power rebelled and sought to silence him. They gave their cloaks to Saul who stood and watched approvingly as the mob stoned Stephen in an illegal execution. Stephen, however, had two more bits of truth to leave them with. In his dying breath, he proclaimed the divinity of Jesus by asking Him to receive his spirit, and then he did the most Christian thing a person can do: he asked God to forgive them.
Jesus called on God to forgive those who were crucifying Him, and Stephen followed His example as the stones fell on him. In our day, we don’t always follow that example. Today we’d rush to find a lawyer, or even worse, broadcast the indignity on social media. If the injustice happened to someone we knew, we’d give them bad internet reviews and try to drive them out of business. In our divided society when “our” people are always right and “their” people are always wrong, we’d foment the anger to a fever pitch, or maybe even a feverer pitch – given our current state of anger at “the other guy.” We think we’re speaking truth to power – their power, and they think they’re speaking truth to power – our power. In the midst of the burning rage The Power of the Universe speaks ultimate truth and reminds us that His Kingdom is built upon forgiveness. Did “they” do something completely unforgivable? Was it worse than crucifying Jesus? Was it worse than stoning Stephen? There are many reasons to be filled with righteous anger in these days – whichever side of the political aisle we may be on. The Power of the universe speaks truth to us, calling on us to forgive our enemies. Abraham Lincoln, responding to someone who called on him to destroy his enemies, not befriend them put it best when he said, “When I make an enemy become a friend, have I not destroyed him as an enemy?”
Lord, we’re so afraid to face our own imperfections that we cry out against the imperfections of those who disagree with us. Remind me of my own sinfulness. Remind me of Your call to forgive those who sin against me. Let me show Your love and forgiveness to those who would do harm to me.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved