The Hindrance Of Pride
A daily devotion for January 21st
1As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3If anyone asks you, 'Why are you doing this?' tell him, 'The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.' "
4They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5some people standing there asked, "What are you doing, untying that colt?" 6They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
10"Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!"
"Hosanna in the highest!"
11Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
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.
15On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17And as he taught them, he said, "Is it not written:
" 'My house will be called
a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.'"
18The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.
19When evening came, they went out of the city.
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."
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 him so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. (Mark 11:24-25)
What Jesus is saying is,
The great hindrance to having faith in God is pride, the pride that refuses to forgive. That is like a mountain that fills up your whole life. All you can see is that big mountain looming before you, and it is blocking the life of God in your life. You have the power to have that removed if, when you stand and pray, you will forgive those who have offended you. Because the only thing that stops us from forgiving one another is pride. We feel justified in wanting others to forgive us but also in feeling that we have to exact a price for the hurt they have caused us. So, in many ways—subtle, or direct and open—we insist that we will not forgive, that our offenders have to pay for what they have done to us. Somehow, we are going to make them crawl, make them beg or plead for forgiveness.
And that, Jesus says,
is a great mountain that needs to be removed, for it is blocking the flow of the life of God to your faith. So when you stand and pray, life will flow from God when you are able to recognize that you, too, need forgiveness. God has forgiven you. God has offered it freely to you; give it just as freely to the one who has offended you.
After many years of ministry, I can recite evidence by the yard that this is true. The one thing above all else that seems to block the flow of the life of God to an individual, to a church, or to a nation, is this unwillingness to forgive, this holding of grudges, this desire to put somebody down in order to feel good yourself, this unwillingness to set these things aside and let God heal all the hurts of life.
That is why Jesus puts His finger on this one thing. Is this not amazing? The nation Israel lost its life because it would not forgive the Gentiles, the Romans, who had offended and grieved it. Instead, it gathered its robes of self-righteousness about it and looked with pride up to God and said,
I thank God I am not like these other people. God says that is what ends the life of a nation. That is what ends the life of a church. And that is what ends the spiritual life of an individual, as it cuts him or her off.
Father, how many times I have refused the forgiving word, the restoring act, only to be tormented by fears and anxieties and worries. Thank You for the forgiveness that is mine in Jesus Christ. Teach me to extend it to those around me.
Life Application: What is the greatest obstacle to the forgiveness we all need to give and receive for healing relationships? How can we be a conduit of God's amazing grace and mercy?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.