Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this he fell asleep.
It was a beautiful sunny day, much like today. I was at the park enjoying life as a 5 year old. Sliding, swinging, running, you name it. At the park I grew up going to we had a particular play area that consisted of some spring loaded single ride animal looking figures. Basically you could rock back and forth and side to side, while nearly touching the ground because of the flexibility of the spring. Well I must have been bored at a point in my day and I decided to put my finger between the springs and act like it was a gumball machine.
Don’t ask me how I remember all of this or why I did it. It just happened. Anyways, as I was running my finger down the spring, a friend of mine thought it would be funny to sit on it. I didn’t see him coming. He sat on the seat and the spring compressed and my finger was wedged between them momentarily as I screamed for help. The kid immediately knew the seriousness of the situation. My finger was crushe, most definitely broken, and still deformed to this day.
It took a while for me to forgive the kid who had done this to me. I hated him for a while. I mean I was five and this kid hurt me for no reason! I know forgiveness is something we all hate talking about. It is easier to just stay mad at the person and not worry about it. They don’t deserve my forgiveness! They have done me wrong and they aren’t even trying to make it right. There is no way! This is what we often tell ourselves.
This verse honestly makes me emotional. If you read prior to this verse you would see Stephen speaking to the people of Sanhedrin. Good luck saying that. After he spoke to them, lets just say they were not happy. They rushed him and brought him out to the city for all to see him be stoned.
While this man Stephen is being stoned he prayed the words we see above. “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” What!? You’re being stoned Stephen. These people are killing you! You should be mad at them! More than mad! I would be living it HATE. These guys are stoning me. Who does that?!
Stephen was a man of God who understood his role. He understood forgiveness. He knew forgiveness so well in his life that he forgave the people that were directly persecuting him for preaching about Jesus. Anyone know who else did this? Jesus himself! As Jesus is on the cross we see the text, “Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
What does this have to do with me? Well we are called to love and forgive others. Failing to forgive leaves us captive. Forgiving can free us. It can free our hearts from hate. It can free our minds from captivity. Who do you need to forgive? Write down a name. Pray for them. Pray for a heart of forgiveness. Pray for the person who hurt you and their heart. Forgiveness calls for us to put our pride and self aside, and focus on others. In turn it allows us to grow into who God has called us to be.
Forgiveness is never easy, but is always worth it. It can mend beautiful relationships and become a light for Jesus. Ultimately Jesus is the reason we can forgive. He forgave the people who put Him on the cross, WHILE He was on the cross. I mean what the what! If I can have a heart more like Jesus, then I will begin to forgive more like Jesus. Unconditionally and without hesitation.
Dear Lord, help us to forgive much because we have been forgiven much. Help us to love much because we have been loved much. Begin to put others on our hearts so we can pray in forgiveness. Thank you for loving us well. You are the best. Amen.