Summary: To encourage those holding on to grudges to release them and forgive.
The Virtuous Kingdom: Evidence of the Reign of God in the Human Heart
The Virtue of Forgiveness
Mark 11: 20-25
Sermon Objective: To encourage those holding grudges to forgive.
We have been looking at Mark chapter 11 for the past few weeks. We have chosen to look at it from specific vantage points … to look at some of the Kingdom virtues God has imparted to the believer. The chapter shows our sovereign King making His way into his Holy City and temple for an official inspection. In doing so, He declares His reign.
“The Virtuous Kingdom: Evidence of the Reign of God in the Human Heart” is an appropriate title for such an event.
We have looked at four virtues already.
† In verses 11:1-11 we discovered the power and importance of living a lifestyle of worship
† In 11:15-17 we praised God for the great gift of prayer. There are so few parameters with prayer and so many blessings! We dare not neglect such a privilege.
† In 11:12-14 & 20-21 we sensed the need to take spiritual inventory and make sure that our spiritual fruit gives evidence of spiritual life.
† In 11:20-24 we discovered the power of living by faith. Trusting God to guide us brings strength, hope, and victory that faulty objects of faith cannot produce.
Next week we will look at the virtue of submission.
But today we will look at Mark 11:20-25:
12The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14Then he said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard him say it.
20In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!"
22"Have faith in God," Jesus answered. 23"I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ’Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."
My wife’s family lives in eastern Tennessee; in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. I have taken many motorcycle rides in these mountains and their foothills. They are unlike any other mountain range. There are places in these mountains that the locals call “hollers.” You know what a holler is? It is a place at the base of mountains that is so remote that it gets very little daylight. The mountains on each side of it block the light … things in a holler stay damp, and cold, and moist because of the lack of heat and sunlight.
There is something about an East Tennessee holler that informs Jesus’ words on forgiveness.
Remember, I told you last week that “removing mountains” was a rabbinical metaphor and had nothing to do with a mound of dirt?
Well, the biggest “mountain” in many people’s lives is a grudge. It is a “spiritual holler.” That big mountain blocks the life of God in their life.
The Bible says that holding grudges defiles us … makes us unclean … that speaks to the unresolved need for pardon that Jesus talks about in today’s text. Hebrews 12 says “Make every effort to live in peace with all men … See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Come to think of it, maybe “mound of dirt” is the appropriate imagery on many levels.
Is unforgiveness a great mountain in your life? Is it blocking the flow of the life of God to your faith?
Jesus’ words on forgiving those we hold grudges against takes on depth, deliverance, and empowerment when we look at them through the rubric of God’s reign in the human heart.
Colossians 3:13 says: Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Like the very person you are holding a grudge against, you need forgiveness also. God has offered it freely to you; give it just as freely to them.
You know, after twenty-four years of ministry, I can recite evidence by the yard that this is true. The one thing above all else which seems to block the flow of the life of God to an individual and to a church is this refusal to forgive, this holding of grudges, this desire to make somebody pay, this unwillingness to set these things aside and let God heal all the hurts of life.