While council members were executing Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, welcome my spirit.” Then he knelt down and shouted, “Lord, don’t hold this sin against them.” After he had said this, he died.
You can forgive others because God forgives you.
Stephen is a hero, the first Christian martyr. But his power to forgive wasn’t his own.
The early church leaders chose Stephen to manage food distribution to poor widows among the Jerusalem believers. He was “a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5) who “did amazing things and performed miracles” (Acts 6:8). When religious opponents couldn’t answer his reasoning about Christ, they charged him with slandering God (Acts 6:9-14).
On trial before the ruling council, Stephen recites Israel’s history from Abraham to the crucifixion, blaming his opponents for murdering God’s Son. As he sees heaven open and Jesus reigning in glory, they drag him out of the city and stone him.
As Stephen dies, he echoes Jesus’ words from the cross (Luke 23:34), asking his Father to show mercy to his killers. If you want power to forgive others, start in prayer. Thank God for wiping away your own sins. Urge him to forgive your opponents. Then shout his mercy to others.
Inspired by Acts 7:51-60