Acts 7:59-60 gives us the last words that Stephen spoke before he was martyred for the cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ:
And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
His last words in sound familiar, don’t they? They are an echo of Jesus’ last words from the Cross (Luke 23:34, 46)! Like his Lord Jesus, Stephen showed great love, mercy, and grace to those who showed him none of the above!
If you stop and think about it, those are amazing words. That is an amazing prayer!
How was Stephen able to pray for the Lord not to hold their sin (his own murder!) against them? How was he able to cry out for their forgiveness even as they were killing him?
Can you even imagine being able to do that? We often have trouble forgiving far lesser things, don’t we?
How can we learn to forgive our enemies like Stephen did here in Acts 7? The key is the gospel.
The more that you grasp the reality of the love and forgiveness that are yours through faith in Christ, the more willing you will be to stick your neck out for the gospel.
And the more willing you will be to forgive even the worst offenses against you.