Acts of the Apostles, Forgiveness, Grace

Grace in Action

Acts 7:60 – And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

If ever there was a man who reflected Jesus, it was Stephen. Luke first introduces us to him in chapter 6 when the first catering committee was elected. Seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom were appointed to the duty of daily distribution to ensure that no-one was neglected and each person’s need was met. Luke tells us that Stephen was a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit. We are also told that he was full of grace and power, and when he wasn’t attending to the needs of the followers, he was doing great wonders and signs among the people. Men belonging to the synagogue challenged Stephen but they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. Stephen was just an ordinary man but by the power of God he demonstrated extraordinary character.

As we know, the religious leaders did not like it when the people listened to anyone other than them, so they enlisted some to tell lies about Stephen, that he was blaspheming. He was brought before the council but he proceeded to destroy their lies by simply declaring the truth of the Torah, leaving them to confront their own sin as he lifted his eyes to heaven. God opened his eyes to see his Lord, and Stephen proclaimed, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” His accusers couldn’t take any more and stormed against him, taking him outside the city to stone him.

Jesus had taught his disciples to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” Stephen followed Jesus’ teaching, reflecting him in life and in death.

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.

  • Where there was folly, he showed wisdom.
  • Where there were lies, he spoke truth.
  • Where there was hatred, he showed love.
  • Where there was condemnation, he spoke forgiveness.

When we allow the Holy Spirit to fill our lives, we become the salt and the light that Jesus taught us to be.

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