While reading in Acts recently, I was struck by Stephen’s last words (Acts 7: 60, above), and by the power they could have as a prayer for anyone. If you see something you know to be wrong, you can pray this prayer; it replaces anger with hope. It can be used for the small or the big; for individual actions or world events. It is a cry for healing and forgiveness. I think when you ask God to forgive someone, you forgive them a little bit yourself. Maybe not completely, but at least you start the process. Moreover, you take the focus off of the wicked or foolish action and put it on Divine Power. I think when we mull over the wrong, we often place it “on the throne”; we are correct to be righteously indignant, but incorrect to let negative thoughts supercede thoughts of God’s grace and power.
Of course, one cannot help also thinking of Jesus’ powerful words at His crucifixion: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23: 34).
Sins are committed for a variety of reasons–ignorance, malice, foolishness, weakness, pride, greed, fear…the list goes on… Whatever the case may be, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.”