“Do not, Lord, hold this sin against them.” The words of Stephen, as he was being pelted with stones, death stones we can call them. In my fifty years, and certainly in my twenty-seven years as a Christian, I have had some difficulty appreciating these words. Stephen knew that has he stood before the council (Acts 6:12) he had little opportunity for a fair “trial” to actuated. Yet, he stood there fully prepared for the verdict that, I imagine, he knew was against him already. He stood there looking out over the ones who would judge him unfairly. He stood there looking at the High Priest, and when the High Priest had bidden him, Stephen speaks. He spoke about those things “commonly believed” (Acts 7:1-50) and then he spoke about that which they dared not believe (Acts 7:51-53). This sent them into a rage and, in their rage, they saw to it that whatever pretense of fairness they were supposed to have was stripped away and exposed for what it was, but an ugly crowd with much hate in their heart for the one who died for them.
Stephen did not die for them, but he had on his lips the very words of our Lord when he said, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60). What would I say if in that position? Well, I am not sure; I am sure, however, that Stephen’s strength (as I interpret it) is something that I am still working on to strengthen in myself.