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Nov 22, 2015 1644
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse (Romans 12:14).
Like his Lord and Saviour, Stephen died praying that the Lord would forgive those who were stoning him to death.
William Barclay says in his commentary on Romans 12:14, “There has been no greater force to move men into Christianity than this serene forgiveness which the martyrs in every age showed. Stephen died praying for forgiveness for those who stoned him to death (Acts 7:60). Among those who killed him was a young man named Saul, who afterwards became the apostle to the Gentiles. There can be no doubt that the death scene of Stephen was one of the things that turned Paul to Christ. As Augustine said, ’The Church owes Paul to the prayer of Stephen.’ Many a persecutor has become a follower of the faith he once sought to destroy, because he has seen how a Christian can forgive.”
Forgiveness is quite foreign to the spirit of the world in which we live. Rather, when someone does something that really hurts another person, such as stealing their life’s savings or killing one of their offspring, the one who is hurt shouts at them in court, “I will never forgive you! I hope you rot in hell!” The reaction of a genuine Christian, however, is quite different. In a kind voice they say, instead, “What you did really hurt me, but I freely forgive you.”
To forgive someone is to indicate that you want them to be in heaven with you. It also indicates that you don’t want them to bear the pain of what they did. Instead you would carry that pain on your own shoulders, just as Jesus carried the pain of your sin against him as he died on the cross. Is that something you can do?