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Monday, November 09, 2015

When They Throw Stones At You

I'm sure you're familiar with the saying, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may never hurt me." And, of course, we know that is not true. Words, carelessly spoken, can and do hurt. In fact, while we may get over the pain from sticks and stones, the effects of words may be felt for the rest of our lives.

This thought came to me as I listened to my pastor preach on the martyrdom of Stephen. This follower of Jesus Christ was stoned to death because some of the Jews argued with him but "they could not stand up against his wisdom" (Acts 6: 10). Therefore, they set people up to lie against Stephen and say he blasphemed against God and Moses. This godly man was killed by verbal stones as well as physical ones.

But what impressed me about Stephen is that he forgave those who were stoning him.

Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep (Acts 7: 60).

Stephen did not become angry or bitter, but instead, like Jesus, he forgave his executioners. Then the Bible says, "he fell asleep." 

When the Bible says Stephen fell asleep, it means he died, but in the context of unforgiveness or worry, we have trouble falling asleep because we keep mulling over the wrongdoing or the injustice instead of looking up to God, as Stephen did, and forgiving the other person. 

Jesus says,  "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6: 15). 

How do you react when others throw stones at you? Do you retaliate? Seek revenge? Or do you simply forgive? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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