While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep. And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.
(Acts 7:59-60, 8:1)
The bible describes Stephen as a "man full of God's grace and power who did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people." (Acts 6:8). He was also a man faced with a life or death decision: he could either publicly reject Christ and live, or publicly accept Christ and die. He chose the latter. But even more remarkably, Stephen had so much love inside him, he prayed for mercy and forgiveness upon the very people who were stoning him to death.
If this sounds familiar, it should. Christ was faced with a similar decision, with a few extra negative incentives: He would have to humble himself to become a man and leave behind the glory of his father's kingdom, knowing full well the people he was doing this for would openly reject, beat, persecute, mock, and crucify him. But despite all the negatives, Christ did humble and sacrifice himself, and upon his death expressed the same love that Stephen would later share: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)
This lends the question, how far would I go in my walk with the Lord? Is my love for Christ conditional upon the safety of my environment? Would I cower in fear and reject the very man that humbled and sacrificed himself for me? Hopefully, my faith is never put to that ultimate test, but if it was, I hope I make the same decision that Stephen did.