Welcome Home – 40 Day Fast Devotion #21
Trusting God with the Outcome
Matt Destry – Communications Pastor
Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
We join the Scripture today with the persecution and opposition to the new movement of Christianity in full swing. After the strategy to distribute food (Acts 6:1-7), Stephen, one chosen to ‘wait on tables’ is captured and brought in for trial on account of false witnesses accusing him of blasphemy. In reality, all Stephen was doing was performing miracles with God’s grace and power! When questioned, none could stand up to Stephen’s wisdom, or the Spirit by which he spoke, or his integrity.
Tragically, after his address to the Sanhedrin, Stephen is stoned to death. In this horrifying passage where Saul (who would become the apostle Paul) makes his entrance into the story (Acts 7:58), heaven receives it’s first Christian martyr. The injustice of the death of Jesus becomes apparent here with many striking similarities in the ‘trial’ and condemnation of Stephen. His final recorded words are simply amazing: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
No one likes feeling unrightfully accused. Not one of us enjoy hearing from others rumours that have been started about our conduct. Sometimes misunderstandings arise, but that is different to outright slander. Our knee-jerk reaction in these times is towards revenge, or at very least, ‘clearing our name’.
Notice Stephen’s response. He is quiet as he is led to the slaughter, and the only words on his lips are words of devotion (verse 56) and forgiveness (verse 60). He is a prophet, and has “declared to Israel their sin” as is a prophet’s responsibility. But he is far from responsible for their subsequent actions and the anger from which they arise. Yet, he desires that they are not held to account for their behaviour, instead opting to remember the mercy and kindness of the Lord at the very time when he is receiving no mercy or kindness.
As Stephen echoes Jesus’ words of forgiveness, may we echo Stephen. Let us not desire divine retribution for wrongs against us, but instead, entrust all things to God, who Scripture says, “judges justly”. With this we continue to bear the image of the Perfect Son, who was far from weak, but whose meekness led Him to inherit the earth.