I heard a story about a guy running late one morning, going a little too fast, and being pulled over by a local police officer. He did everything he could to try and get out of the ticket, but the officer wasn't budging, so the guy took his ticket and went on with his day.
A few days later, the local recreational softball league started, and luck would have it that these two would meet again. Dave, the speeder, was the umpire, with the police officer being the lead-off hitter.
They recognized each other, and the officer asked, how the ticket process ended up and the umpire simply smiled and said, "swing at everything."
Have you ever dealt with unforgiveness? Unforgiveness is underestimated in many of our lives and must be dealt with.
I have heard one preacher say a person who lives with unforgiveness does three things:
Curses the offense, 2. nurses the offense, and 3. rehearses the offense.
Today I want to look at the subject of unforgiveness in our reading. Jesus says that there is a lot at stake when we have unforgiveness in our hearts. It's bigger than the softball game! Instead, it affects the most powerful weapon we are given on this planet, prayer.
Listen to what Jesus instructs us about prayer and unforgiveness:
"Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." Mark 11:23-25 NIV
Today, our reading tells us that one thing that affects our prayers' effectiveness is unforgiveness in our hearts toward others. There are two significant moments in this chapter dealing with prayer. One in verse 17 as Jesus reminds us that His house is to be a house of prayer. While it is a house of worship, preaching, connections, and discipleship, we can never allow it to lose its place as a house of prayer!
Also, look at verses 22-24
"And Jesus answered and said to them, "Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted to him. Therefore, I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted to you." Mark 11:22-24
One thing can hinder mountains from being moved and put into the sea that is unforgiveness. Jesus is saying to have faith and believe that anything we ask for can be accomplished, except when we don't forgive our spouse for leaving their socks out, or our kids for their attitude, or being wronged by a co-worker, or a friend sharing that secret with someone else - that can hinder our mountains from being moved.
The question I want to ask is: Is it worth it? If my not forgiving people hinders me from seeing the impossible done in my life and circumstances, is it worth it to hold that grudge any longer?
I heard a preacher once say, "Don't try to ask big if unforgiveness is big in you." Ouch, that hurts!
Every time I am tempted to hold onto grudges or unforgiveness I think about the other mountains in my life, and I think to myself "Is this worth that mountain not moving for me to stay upset at that person or not provide that forgiveness?"
Today, I know that this will be hard, but I want to encourage you right now to write, text, call, message, reach out to that person and forgive them. I know this is a big ask because if it were small or easy you would have already done it! Reach out to them today and provide them with forgiveness now. They don't need to accept it, receive it, or anything, but you need to give it so you can move past your unforgiveness.
One of the ways that I know that I have moved past my issue of unforgiveness is when I stop telling the story. Today let's stop telling the stories and then pray big prayers! Pray mountains into the sea, and let's see God do incredible things in our lives.