17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'”
Paul here is telling his story as he defends himself before a Roman tribune. His own testimony was that at the same time he was standing by and approving the stoning of Stephen, he was “watching over” the garments of those who had removed their coats to be able to better throw stones. What is entailed in “watching over” these garments? It seems legitimate to conclude that part of what it means to “watch over” these garments is to make sure that no one steals them while they are busy stoning someone to death. What a glaring example of misplaced priorities!! While they are murdering a man they want to make sure that no one steals from them. How human this is. We are all prone to see the speck in someone else’s eye and miss the log in our own. “You had better not do this small thing to me” we seem to say, while at the same time we are willing to do worse to them and much worse against God. Lord, preserve me from such hypocrisy. Today, guard your heart against seeing small things done against you as being more offensive than your sins against God.