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Summary: Lord, do not hold this sin against them. - Acts 7:60 Stephen who was a Deacon full of the Holy Spirit was testifying to the religious leaders who crucified Christ just days before. He was dragged out of the temple and city and brought to a place where ..

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Lord, do not hold this sin against them. - Acts 7:60

Stephen who was a Deacon full of the Holy Spirit was testifying to the religious leaders who crucified Christ just days before. He was dragged out of the temple and city and brought to a place where they started to stone him. Stones were hurled at this angelic figure. As each stone struck his sanctified body out of his spirit rose the same prayer of forgiveness for his persecutors. In the early Church, Stephen was known as the “perfect martyr” and was an example for many others to follow in as he followed Christ’s example on the cross. Seemingly opposite to reason and the world’s thinking our Lord gave us the example of loving and blessing those who hate and do evil to us as believers. Jesus emulated that many times in his earthly walk. Looking at the teachings of Jesus we can see the clear emphasis on this unreasonable love show to others when under duress or suffering. “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also” (Luke 6:29). “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person” (Matthew 5:39). “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness” (Matthew 5:10). “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20).

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” (Matthew 10:28). “Do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The way of martyrdom is never the way of self-will or fighting but it is a release and submitting to the will of God. Jesus showed us that the Father was in full control and he submitted the will of Him who could sustain him through any trial or in the end, physical death. To mediate on these precepts and ask ourselves in our daily lives are we following the Lord’s example? Are we able to humble ourselves in situations in daily life? Eusebius, an early church witness, said of the martyrs: “They humbled themselves under the mighty hand, by which they are now greatly exalted. They defended all, but accused none. They absolved all, but bound none. And they prayed for those who had inflicted cruelties upon them.”


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