“So they stoned Stephen while he called upon God, and said, ‘Jesus, Lord, receive my spirit!’
Then, on his knees, he cried in ringing tones, ‘Lord, forgive them for this sin.’ And with these words he fell into the sleep of death” (Acts 7:59-60, J. B. Phillips).
The next time you’re finding it difficult to forgive a family member or friend over something done to you, remember that Stephen was able to forgive those who were in the very act of stoning him to death.
Let that sink in.
That’s next level forgiveness.
That’s the kind of forgiveness that doesn’t come with human effort. There’s no amount of strength or willpower you or I could summon up that could bring us to be able to forgive this way.
Think of Jesus, who said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do,” as a prayer for the ones who were in the middle of murdering Him.
I could never forgive like that. But if the Life of Jesus resides in me through the power of the crucifixion and resurrection, if the Spirit of Jesus indwells in me, then the power of next level forgiveness lies in me as well.
That doesn’t mean forgiveness is easy, but it’s possible. Remember no matter how hard it might be to forgive someone, it’s much harder to live under the weight and burden of unforgiveness and bitterness.
Forgive as your Heavenly Father has forgiven you. As you forgive others, so shall the Father forgive you.