He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died. (Acts 7:60)
Relate: I have never been stoned. Neither have I ever had men throwing rocks at me to the point of death. However, there was one time when I got myself pretty good. I don’t remember why exactly I was doing it, but there was this one time when I threw a big boulder I could barely lift up against the side of my house. I was probably six or seven at the time. When the boulder hit the wall, it bounced back in a way I had not expected and landed right on my foot. Took my big toenail clean off. You would be surprised at the words that can come out of the mouth of a sheltered pastor’s kid. I said things you probably wouldn’t believe I knew. I can barely believe I knew them. Eventually that stoning did drive me to my knees. Almost like Stephen I cried out, “Father forgive me. I know not what I do. Lord, don’t charge me with this sin.”
Stephen’s first response was to seek forgiveness for his persecutors. For me it was a little bit further down the line. That has always been the way it is. I am not one to hold grudges. Things that have happened will quickly and easily become water under the bridge. Quickly… but not immediately. I have this horrible habit of being quite caustic in the heat of the moment. I wish it were not so but all too often my first response is to say something clever or witty that belittles the person who offended me. My words can be a knife that cuts quick and sharp. The thing that makes me stop and wonder, if Stephen replied as I often do, would the Saul who was watching never become the Paul we know?
React: I heard of a speaker who said, “If you have a barrel full of water and I started shaking it, what’s gonna come out?” Obviously he was answered, “water.” The speaker then asked, “If we claim to have the Spirit of God living inside of us, then what should be coming out when the world starts to shake us up?” When I’m getting kicked around, what comes out? Stephen was full of love, so when the rocks started flying, forgiveness spilled out. What am I full of? What is my first response in unpleasant situations?
God, let my first and only response be You. When life shakes me up, let Your love, Your forgiveness, Your grace be what flows out of me. Fill me up so that there is no room for anything else. I want more of You to the point I am spilling it out into the world around me.