Forgiveness of those who do us harm is essential to the Gospel. Jesus asks his Father to forgive those who are crucifying him, and reminds his disciples to put aside everything, even their pilgrimage to the Temple, to reconcile with those from whom they are separated.
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Mt 5: 22-24)Stephen's cry, even as he dies, that God forgive those responsible for his death is something we hear early in the Christmas and Easter seasons. Only those willing to accept the consequences of their discipleship will know the fullness of God's love. While we honor all of Stephen's ministry, we hold it up most fully for imitation when he lets go even into death for the sake of the Gospel. Stephen's ultimate sacrifice is proof of his love of God no matter the cost, and challenges us to pray for the same grace.
Today, forgive someone who has not asked it of you.
Are you holding a past hurt against a family member or friend?