Day 4 (Acts 7)
59 They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.
Stephen, knowing his audience was the scripturally educated leadership of the people, gave them a history lesson building up to the time of Jesus. And at that moment Stephen accuses them of killing the very promise of God, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. When this infuriates the crowd they seize him and stone him. But it is Stephen’s prayer that stands out. He prays that the Lord would receive the life he is laying down and even further that God would forgive the crowd and have mercy on them.
To me this resounds in my heart to how we should handle those who persecute us. Stephen knows his audience but DOES NOT back down from the word God put in his heart, and the harsh truth of his accusation. BUT yet he does not wish harm on them, even when they have every intention of taking his life. Could that be said of us at that moment? Or are we vengeance seekers? Even in persecution and trials, God calls us to forgive and have grace for those who persecute us.
Lord help me to live a life so full of grace and mercy that I can love my persecutors like Stephen. That even in the midst of the attack I can pray you forgive them for the harm they are causing. God help me to be gracious to those far from you, because at one time that was me….Throwing stones.