Do Not Hold this Sin Against Them
“While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ 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.” (Acts 7:59-60, NIV)
Reading these verses, I am humbled and in awe of Stephen’s act of love and by his willingness to forgive those who accused and murdered him. I’m convicted by all the times I’ve reacted with anger, resentment, and unforgiveness over minor acts of offense or transgression. This verse shows me how far I have to grow in my journey as a man of God. As I sit here writing this, I see how God is teaching me to walk in love and forgiveness with a fellow brother I’m working with who is very difficult and exhibits poor leadership skills. I have asked the Lord several times lately if I should just walk away. His answer is a resounding “No, you have much to learn from Stephen and my Son Jesus.”
I think back to the day the Holy Spirit prompted me to step out of Operations and into our Children’s Ministry to help grow this critical area in our church. While I’ve always loved and enjoyed children, I knew why God directed me to take this role. He wanted me to grow and mature in my love walk. What a perfect place to make the necessary adjustments in mind, heart and spirit. God led me to this training ground with 25-30 innocent children who give love freely, who want and need to be loved in return. I praised God for this opportunity for spiritual growth and promotion. God told me to watch, listen and learn unconditional love at the very feet of experts on the subject, little children. I confess that the experience made me a more loving and compassionate man. I am comforted to know my current tests and trials are also part of my training.
Child of God, how is your love walk? How far do you need to grow to measure up to the mark that Stephen has set? Are you quick to forgive when others hurt you? The next time you face others “throwing stones” (insults or accusations) your way, decide to walk in love, compassion and forgiveness. Like Stephen, speak these words, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
Father, thank You for this example of walking in love, compassion and forgiveness at all times. Holy Spirit, show me how to love others in times of persecution. Help me face others who “throw stones” with a loving and forgiving heart. Through the blood of Jesus and in the name of Jesus I pray, amen.
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