Friday – April 19, 2024

1 Samuel 6-8; Acts 7

by Kelli Smith Simpkins

“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

Think back to a time someone slighted you, intentionally or by mistake. How easy was it for you to forgive them? Now imagine that person did more than insult you. Imagine they tried to kill you. I’d assume that makes forgiveness a bit harder, huh?

Stephen was literally being stoned to death as a blasphemer, and rather than cursing those punishing him, he begged for forgiveness on their behalf. Even though they were in the wrong, he wanted the potential for forgiveness for them. He hoped they would one day accept the truth and join him in Paradise.

The world doesn’t understand this level of forgiveness. So much so that it’s considered newsworthy. I’ve seen news articles about the families of murder victims forgiving their murderers, often attributing it to their faith. They, like Stephen, have adopted this radical forgiveness we see repeatedly in scripture.

Whether it’s the stranger who cut you off in traffic, the coworker who always undermines you, or the relative who continues to open old wounds, I pray God grants you the strength to forgive them. I also pray that such forgiveness acts as a gateway for all involved as you pursue God wholeheartedly and cling to the truth as Stephen did.