Why should I forgive them? If I was Stephen, I don’t know how I would cope with facing accusers who accused me of false witness. Previously in Acts 7, Stephen had delivered a speech with audacity, unpacking relevant truth to a group of people for their own benefit. However, they took offence. Furious, they pulled him out of the city to execute him by stoning him, which was the Jewish punishment for blasphemy.
Why did something so terrible happen to Stephen while he was filled with the Holy Spirit? We don’t know exactly. What we do know is that God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. I believe the Holy Spirit dwelling in Stephen’s heart helped him to know God’s thoughts and to endure in that moment of excruciating pain.
Stephen’s close walk with God enabled him to see things in the light of eternity. Under immense pressure, Stephen gazed steadily at heaven rather than at his circumstance or his opponents. Stephen yielded entirely to the Spirit of God. Since his heart was fully surrendered, the fruit of the Spirit was abundant. He was empowered with love, kindness, and self-control to utter his last words in their favor: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Act 7:60). Then, he breathed his last breath. No more pain. Only eternal gain. Stephen left a legacy of selfless faith and forgiveness.
Likewise, we should focus on Jesus to the point that He becomes magnified and we gain strength to endure the issue we are facing. As in Stephen’s case, we can let His glorious presence sustain us through any emotional or physical pain.
Dear Father God, please help me to be strong enough to avoid taking offence when someone hurts me. Remind me to pray for them as soon as I feel the emotional pain. I want to learn to forgive on the spot like Stephen did. Help me to walk in the Spirit so I can bear much fruit, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Go deeper — For further questions about the Holy Spirit, feel free to contact one of our mentors by using the form below. Your question will be kept confidential. This should help ― read The Spirit-Filled Life.
Photo Credit: Nick Tong