Faith Without Forgiveness Is Dead

 

By Dean Smith

 




Sunday Morning: Millions of pastors from contrasting denominations preaching about a theme this is ever so central in the Bible: Faith.
Without faith, we can't make God happy.  

Hebrews 11:6  [6] But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Since faith is so important to God, it's a pretty popular topic for preachers-- and rightfully so. We see throughout scripture how faith makes all things possible. We know that it is by grace we have been saved, through faith (Ephesians 2:8). We are instructed to live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Faith is important. So, when Jesus Christ Himself is talking about the ingredients needed to make a perfect batch of faith, it's a fairly good idea to listen. You might even want to grab a pencil, take a note or two. Here's Jesus's famous recipe used by pastors worldwide to concoct tasty sermons about faith: 

Mark 11:22-24 [22] So Jesus answered and said to them,  Have faith in God. [23] For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain,  Be removed and be cast into the sea,  and does not doubt in his heart,  but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. [24] Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. 

First, note that Jesus tells us to speak to our mountains to be removed. You're going to have to open your  mouth. Then, He says to not doubt, but believe and you'll have whatever you speak. These elements are as central to the faith recipe as flour, sugar, and eggs are to a cookie recipe. However, most sermons usually only have time to stay focused on these ingredients without making mention of what is perhaps the most important ingredient. Jesus's recipe keeps going. Did He stop speaking at the end of verse 24? Nope. 

[25] And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. [26] But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.

Ah, that little word, "And" that indicates a continuation of the preceding sentence. The word, "And" may be the key to the entire recipe. Like if a parent said to their child, "Yes, you can go play with your friends and don't forget to take your medicine on the way to their house or you'll die." What comes after the "And" almost seems unrelated but, in fact, is the most important part. 

Daily forgiveness is a critical part of the faith recipe. If you don't include that ingredient, your whole faith cake is going to fall flatter than a pancake.  Even worse, full, unfettered fellowship with your heavenly Father is impossible. Unforgiveness is a faith blocker. That means that unforgiveness is a blessing blocker. An answered prayer blocker. Because it is impossible to please God without faith, and our faith won't have power without forgiveness. 

What do you have faith in right now? Probably many things: blessings, finances, health, opportunities, friendships, etc. When you look at where you are right now with forgiveness vs. unforgiveness, are you standing in a position to talk to your mountain and expect it to move?

Think of all the prayers you make on a daily basis for the loved ones in your life. You probably pray for your children, other family, friends. Based on the unforgiveness in your life, how much power do your prayers carry? Or, shall we say, how tasty of a batch of faith, are you cooking up? 

Today is the day to step into the full awareness that your prayers of faith without forgiveness will not create the kind of answered prayers that Jesus said we can have. See, if you have the faith that is possible through Christ, then you'd believe that you can forgive and love others like He has forgiven and loved you. Faith starts with receiving His love and forgiveness and then passing it on to others. 

It's time to get cooking with the right ingredients.


Today's Exercise
Write down 3 things that you are having faith about for yourself and 3 things that you're having faith for others. What do you think could happen in those six areas if you emphatically added the ingredient of forgiveness in all areas of your life on a prayer-by-prayer basis?
Prayer
Lord, thank you that you are a rewarder of those who diligently seek you. Thank you that when we pray in faith, according to your will, without doubting, you hear our prayers and answer them. Thank you that you have given me the strength and the ability to love and forgive everyone in my life to the same level that you have loved and forgiven me. Today, Lord, please help me put on the mind of Christ, and begin to see that forgiveness for anyone and everyone is possible. I receive your love and forgiveness in my life right now, and I thank you for your grace. Help me to remember that each time I stand praying, I should surrender all my bitterness and unforgiveness to you. Right now, I choose to surrender my unforgiveness toward (insert name). Please bless them in all areas of their life. In Jesus' name, Amen.