Gracious Forgiveness

December 17, 2010 Donna New

It seems to me, in my observation of life that guys generally like statistics, facts, trivia. Girls seem to be more relationship oriented. This is certainly not a definite rule of life. I had always skimmed over this chapter 7 because it seemed to me a list of facts. But as I read it this time I teared up realizing Stephen was recounting God’s relationship with Abraham, Jacob, Joseph and Moses and His working of His will with His people. God spoke to these men and these men spoke back. They had discussions with God. To me that’s amazing. I pray and I sense God speak to me in my heart but never do I have a verbal conversation with Him. Wouldn’t you love it? But even so, all throughout history Israel fell and walked away from God and their leaders.

Stephen told the counsel that they were resisting the Holy Spirit. They were cut to the heart. But rather that repenting and softening their hearts, they became angry and hardened their hearts, laid their coats at Saul’s feet and began stoning Stephen.

Stephen’s last words were “Lord, fix not this sin upon them” (Acts 7:60) In other words “Forgive them Father they know not what they do.” I believe Saul who later was named Paul and wrote much of the New Testament, was cut to the quick by Stephen’s forgiveness. It wasn’t much later that Saul became a Christian.

People can do small irritating sins that are hard to let go of. And people can do major harmful things to us that wrench us to forgive. Either way in God’s kingdom and for our own hearts we have to forgive. And we could possibly affect a life for eternity.

Matthew 6:12 Amp says, “And forgive us our debts as also we have forgiven (left, remitted, and let go of the debts, and have given up resentment against) our debtors.”  I didn’t know what remit meant so I checked and it means exonerate. So all of this is happening inside us but it will affect how we respond to them. It’s not a reason to be abused. We have to hold them accountable but we let go in our hearts…no more resentment.

Chapter 9 and 10 are so good. Philip begins preaching and doing miracles. In chapter 10 Saul becomes a Christian. He immediately starts preaching and people are amazed at his knowledge. But the part of these three chapters that spoke to me was Stephen so I kind of majored on him.

Forgiveness is a beautiful thing. He forgives us each day our many sins and so we’re little Jesus’ when we forgive. It’s basic, foundational for a Christian but one of the toughest commands to obey. I read somewhere that “Forgiveness is paying the debt for someone who can’t pay it themselves.”

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