Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Daily Light - October 4, 2011

Daily Light from the Lighthouse

"Lord, do not charge them with this sin."
Acts 7:60

Dying words say much about the person who is speaking those words. The life, love, and character of Stephen are on full display as the rocks pile up around him. He is hated for doing nothing more than preaching the message of repentance and the love of Christ to a group of people that desperately needed to hear it. The description of unjust murder would certainly fit this scene. It would seem more appropriate for Stephen's last words to be "Why? Why?"
Instead, we see him model the very One that he openly proclaimed: Jesus. As Jesus hung on the cross after suffering from the cruelty of those who indicted Him and those who mercilessly beat Him, He said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." It would seem clear that the greatest gift that we could ever give to others is forgiveness. It is also true that we are never more like Jesus than when we exercise this blessed gift of forgiveness.
It is true that for most of us it is not a natural impulse. The natural man within each of us wants vengeance. We live with a "how dare you" chip on our shoulder. We don't deserve to be treated the way we were treated, and those that have hurt us so greatly deserve to face the full justice of their transgression. We have turned Jesus' words of turning the other cheek into a byline or a joke, but Jesus was serious. He proved that on the cross of Calvary. Now, one of His closest followers is modeling it for us again.
Think about the stones that were piling up around Stephen. They were thrown by those who shouted insults. Their faces were gnarled with hate and disdain for Stephen and his faith. This was not a group of people looking for forgiveness; they were looking to kill with no remorse at all for their actions. Much of the confusion of forgiveness comes to the fact that so many have been taught that they can only forgive when the person who committed the offense seeks forgiveness. It is just the opposite that is true. A disciple of Christ learns to forgive far before the forgiveness is sought. A disciple is to carry no records of wrong done against them. Jesus taught that the forgiveness we receive is directly linked to the forgiveness that we give. If there is forgiveness that you need to give to someone, don't delay in freely giving it today. It may not feel natural, because it is not. It is super-natural.
May you breathe words of forgiveness today!

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