and as they were stoning stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” and falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” and when he had said this, he fell asleep. [acts 7:59-60]
do not hold this sin against them
we live in a society that is becoming increasingly polarized. in such a society, it can be easy to harbor hatred and anger against people who disagree with us. i see it in myself – this anger emerging at a simple thing like being cut off in traffic. i can get especially angry at those who mock Jesus and his followers. It hurts to know that people are mocking the true God who loves them so deeply.
Yet stephen gives us a different example. in this moment, as he is being hit by stones intended to cause his death, he prays for them. He doesn’t pray to be rescued, doesn’t pray for their demise, but asks God to forgive them this sin.
in this, we see that stephen was following the example that had recently been set by Jesus. As Jesus was on the cross, he prayed for those who were crucifying him [Luke 23:34].
stephen’s life ends with a prayer for those who are ending his life.
his life ends as he lived it, with a desire to serve and honor Jesus alone, no matter the cost.
we pray for safety, security, and hope for a long and vibrant life. but should our life or liberty ever be taken from us because of our devotion to Jesus, may our response be the same as stephen – a prayer of forgiveness and a desire for our spirit to be in the presence of Christ.
~ jason soroski