"The one who REJECTS me
and does not RECEIVE my WORDS has a JUDGE;
THE WORD that I have SPOKEN
will JUDGE him on the LAST DAY."
Last time, in the series on Letting Go of the Wrong, I talked about replacing the desire for vengeance with the desire for vindication. Vindication means that the person who's done you so much wrong will finally know exactly what he did. He will finally understand the suffering he caused you, and the suffering he caused our LORD, his Savior, and he will either kneel down in front of our LORD and beg for forgiveness, or he will reject Christ's mercy and be rejected by Christ in return. Whether you desire to withhold forgiveness at that point or not doesn't matter for him. But it matters a great deal for you.
There will come a time when each one of us will be on our knees in front of our LORD with Satan looking on, recounting everything we've ever done wrong in vivid detail. Maybe we've never driven drunk or killed another human being outright, or even injured anyone or stolen a dime ...but what have we done?
Have we chosen to do something else for an hour on Sunday morning instead of worshiping the Son of God who died for us? Skimped on our weekly offering so we could buy something for ourselves? Repeated unsavory gossip about our neighbor whom the Son of God loves enough to have died for? Felt hatred for that young man with the blue mohawk and twenty-five piercings when all Jesus feels for him is love? Felt cheated by the wonderful, glorious gift of free and complete forgiveness God gave to the entire world because that means He also gave it to someone we hate?
...have we hated Jesus?
In the end, does it really matter if we're the murderer set free or one of the thousands in the crowd shouting, "Crucify Him!"? Jesus wasn't just praying for those who were literally driving the nails into His innocent palms. He was praying for EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US who put Him up there on that cross. It hurts. We hurt. Jesus knows that. He died for what happened to you, He died for you, and He died for the person who did this to you. That's what's at stake when it comes to withholding forgiveness: if we refuse theirs, we refuse our own (Mark 11:25; Matthew 6:14-15; Matthew 18:21-22; Luke 6:37; 2 Corinthians 2:5-11).