DON'T PUT THIS ON THEIR ACCOUNT
ACTS 7:59-60 NKJ
59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
When Jesus hung on the cross, He uttered words very similar to these "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." (Luke 23:34) We are not surprised at the words of the Son of God, but the words of Stephen create a challenge.
Stephen is not Jesus. But here he is acting as Jesus did, forgiving those men who were stoning him to death. That had to be a horrible way to die, having your body pummeled to death with fist sized rocks. Painful and not in the least bit pleasant or peaceful. Yet Stephen's last words were a request to not hold these men accountable for his gruesome death. Stephen's example is that of Christ-like forgiveness.
How was Stephen able to forgive those men who were killing him?
We see some glimpses of Stephen's strength in Acts Chapter 6, where we are told he was a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit. (Acts 6:8) He is a man God used to do miracles, and right before he died, he was given a vision of heaven and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
The reality of God, of Jesus as Lord, and the reality of heaven combined to make Stephen a man who lived above the negativity of this earthly realm. The most important thing to Stephen was to please God and be a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. So, for him, death was a temporary thing, and greater things were waiting on the other side.
As we grow spiritually, we began to sense there is a spiritual world that is more real than this temporary earth. When living to please God becomes important and His faith and Spirit are living big in us, then the misdeeds of people do not rate so highly. When our lives are wrapped up in us, the world is a much more painful place. But with more of God in our lives, it becomes easier to forgive those who hurt us. To ask Him not to charge them with sins done to us. That He not put it on their account.
Dear Father, thank You for forgiving me of all my sins. Help me live with more of You in mind and may Your word and Spirit live big in me. Forgive those who have sinned against me. In the light of eternity, their sins don't look so big. Don't put it on their account.