What do you do when someone makes you mad or hurts you? Do you plot your revenge and wait for your opportunity to strike? I hate to admit I did when I was younger. I grew up the middle child with two brothers. We were about two and a half years apart and they loved to tag team me. I quickly learned my trump card was to stand perfectly still in the house and in a very loud voice scream “Daddy” and they would disappear. My daddy was my rescuer. My mother used to say I could do no wrong in his eyes. I don’t remember it quite like that, but he did come to my rescue plenty.
Jesus tells us when someone hurts us, we are to forgive them [Matthew 6:12]. Peter, who I love, wanted Jesus to clarify just how many times he had to forgive someone. You know Jesus just had to love Peter. When he asked Jesus the question, he threw out the number seven [Matthew 18:21]. From his perspective, he was being generous. However, Jesus told him to forgive someone seventy-seven times. Now He wasn’t saying don’t forgive them seventy-eight times. He was simply indicating the need to go on forgiving. After all, Jesus forgives us by the same measure we forgive others [Matthew 7:2].
If you look in Acts 7 you see a beautiful example of how we should respond when someone hurts us. Stephen shared the Gospel of Jesus with all who would listen. He performed miracles, signs and wonders to demonstrate the power of God. He wasn’t popular among the religious leaders and they decided to stone him.
In Acts 7:54-60 we read the account of Stephen’s death. He forgave the very people who killed him even before their task was complete [vs. 60]. As I read through this, I wondered if the thought ever entered his mind to pick up a rock or two and throw them back. He could have, but he didn’t. If he had, he would have been just like his accusers instead of like Jesus. There is no other person recorded in scripture who was more Christ-like than Stephen, because even as he was being killed, he chose to forgive [Acts 7:60, Luke 23:34]. Stephen didn’t do this in his own strength. He fixed his eyes on Jesus, not his circumstances, and he gained his strength from Him [vs. 56].
What do you look at when you are being hurt? Where is your focus? When we fix our eyes on Jesus, it makes it easier to imitate Him. We need to drop our rocks and choose to forgive. When we do, Jesus gives a standing ovation [vs. 56].