By: Pastor Jarren Rogers
Maybe you’ve seen it.
It’s on Highway 31 heading south. A sign in the yard of a small grey-blue house. It’s right by the road. You can’t miss it.
It’s hard to imagine how many cars have driven past it through the years, how many people have squinted to see what’s written. I’m sure people have different reactions when it finally comes into focus. Some may shake their heads. Others might give a slight chuckle.
Me? I just wonder. I wonder what could have happened that would inspire someone to put a big sign in their yard with this inscribed upon it:
OUT ON A LIMB TREE SERVICE
TAKES YOUR MONEY AND RUNS
And it’s been there, planted in the front yard of that house, for as long as I can remember. Someone got ripped off, and their response was to put a sign in their yard that labels their deceiver a thief, in big, red, bold letters. They wanted everyone driving down Highway 31 to know that they’d been betrayed and misled.
The way they see it, putting up the sign was the closest they could get to justice. The sign was necessary if it meant the thief got what was coming to him. If I can’t get my money back, at least I can tarnish the other guy’s reputation.
And how long has that sign been up, anyway? Five or six years at least! That’s how long ago I remember seeing it. I’m sure it’s been there longer.
How long can one hold a grudge? This guy has been holding one for a long time. Can you imagine? Every time he comes home and every time he goes to work he drives past that sign. Every time he invites guests for dinner they see that sign. Every time he mows, he has to mow around that sign.
It seems exhausting. To carry unforgiveness around for so long that the symbol of your grudge becomes a part of the landscape, a constant reminder of how you’ve been wronged.
Whenever I pass that sign, with the big bold letters in front of the blue-grey house, I always think about the fact that so many of us have similar signs. But these signs aren’t out in our front yards. No, these are in our hearts.
They are posted in our hearts as a constant reminder of how we’ve been wronged. It comes out in our speech, in how we talk about that person. It comes out in our actions, in how we treat the person that wronged us. Sometimes the sign gets dirty with age, and we find another excuse to add on a fresh coat of paint.
Just like the sign in the yard of the blue-grey house, our signs often overwhelm and discourage us. We carry our grudges like heavy burdens that cause anger and bitterness over time. We continue to allow our past hurts and betrayals to continue to affect us today.
This is why Jesus thought forgiveness was so important.
“If he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘repent,’ you must forgive him” (Luke 17:4).
Christ wants us to pull up the signs that have been planted in our hearts, and he wants to fill the holes that are left with more of Himself.