And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Ac 7:59-60)
Focus on the extreme mercy and forgiveness that Stephen displayed! Here are people in the process of killing him, and he forgives them and asks the Lord to forgive them. Then he dies. What mercy! What forgiveness! Stephen went to heaven as a martyr for the gospel.
According to Daniel 9:9, mercy and forgiveness belong to God. The Bible says (see below) that mercy and unlimited forgiveness belong to God.
O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, because with the Lord there is mercy and with Him there is unlimited forgiveness. (Ps 130:7 GW)
In the church of Jerusalem, Stephen was chosen along with six other men to serve as deacons. As deacons, they would take charge of the gifts of the people, and give assistance to those who were in need, including widows. The criteria for choosing these men was that they had to have the Spirit of God and to have wisdom.
Stephen not only cared for the poor, but he began to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone—Jews and Gentiles both. This conduct enraged some of Jews, who plotted against him.
Clearly, as Stephen shared the Good News, the Holy Spirit used Stephen as an instrument for the Kingdom of God. History records that Stephen, as he ministered to the people, performed signs, wonders, and miracles among them. Glory to God!
Stephen clearly loved and obeyed Jesus Christ, his Savior and example in all things. Stephen emulated the Lord Jesus Christ in his life, work, and even in death.
This is a good moment to reflect upon our own lives; and to determine whether we are allowing mercy and forgiveness to operate in our lives, our responses, and our actions.