One of the disciples, Stephen, was sent into Jerusalem to spread the word of Jesus Christ. He was filled with the power of God and worked many miracles amongst the people.
Because of this a group of men in the synagogue revolted against what he was telling the people and lied to the priests about him saying that what Stephen was preaching was blasphemy against Moses and against God.
The high priests brought Stephen before the assembly and challenged him. He answered the priests back with a long history of the Jewish people. When he had finished, he reminded all those present of how their ancestors didn’t believe the prophets God sent and resisting the Spirit of God, they killed those prophets.
This greatly angered the assembly and they began yelling insults at Stephen. But Stephen wasn’t listening to them because as he looked up he saw Jesus standing at God’s side. And he said aloud, “Look! The heavens have opened and I see Jesus Christ standing on the right side of God!”
When the crowd heard that they violently grabbed Stephen and dragged him to the edge of the city abusing him along the way. When they got there the crowd began throwing rocks to stone him to death.
Stephen knelt and cried in a loud voice, “Lord, do not blame these men for what they are doing.” And after he prayed for his tormentors, he passed out and died.
Acts 6:7-9, 7:1-60, interpreted by Sabina after the KJV
When I read this I was struck how Stephen prayed for those who tormented him – those very people who were killing him slowly and painfully. He had a perfect pattern to follow; Jesus prayed that the people crucifying Him would not be held accountable for their crime.
So, I wonder, if I were in Stephen’s sandals, would I be able to do the same? Pray for the people who were hurting me? It turns out, I am in his sandals, or at least a different type of sandal. No, I don’t have people killing me; but I do have people being mean to me on an almost daily basis and I need to learn to pray for them, not curse them.
Follow the example set first by Jesus, then by Stephen.
Lord, don’t blame these men and women for the terrible words they are saying to me. Let the pain they are inflicting upon me be transformed into love and joy for them and for You. Amen.