The First Christian Martyr

Lord, do not charge them with this sin!—Acts 7:60

If Christ lives in you then He can love in you. You too can forgive injuries, pray for your enemies, and make every allowance for their wickedness.

The first man ever to die for Christ was Stephen. Our reading makes it clear that he was unjustly murdered. But Christ lived in him. His last words were a magnificent echo of Calvary: “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” Remember Stephen was stoned to death. Imagine how painful that must have been. It was almost as cruel as crucifixion. One by one the stones pounded the life from his body, but though they battered the life out of him they could not batter the love out of him. Like his Lord he kept on loving to the end. Christ was in his mind up until his last moments. “Lord,” he said, “do not charge them with this sin.”

The chapter ends with a lovely sentence: “And saying this, he fell asleep.” But don’t let these words lead you to think there was no hurt, no pain, no physical agony. He would have felt it all; you can be certain of that. But the love of Christ poured into him and through him, and, taken up with Him in his heart and mind, his soul was taken up to be with Him. Some words ring in my mind as I write—words spoken by one who stood holding the coats of those who threw the stones: “Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus” (Php 2:5).

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I must not perpetuate the treatment people give to me. I must echo Your words and treat people as You do. But I can’t do this except by Your grace. May Your love melt all my resentments and heal all my hurts. Amen.

Further Study

1Sm 24:1-25; Ac 22:19-21; Rm 12:14-21

How did David have the mind of Christ?

How are we to treat those who treat us badly?

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