By your words you shall be acquitted, and by your words you shall be condemned. - Jesus (Matthew 12:37)The Bible invites us to imagine the Last Day, and to wonder about the words that will be spoken to us. While Jesus has given us more than one picture of the Last Day, they share a common theme: "with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." Jesus said that our own words would come back to us on the Last Day, not only for those who are condemned but even for those who would be acquitted:
I say to you: That every idle word that people shall speak, they shall give account for it on the Day of Judgment. For by your words you shall be acquitted, and by your words you shall be condemned. (Matthew 12:36-37)So, if the words I hear on that day are words that I have used myself, I should ask myself: with what words would I like to be acquitted? When we imagine the Last Day, we might worry about what words we will hear, and we may wonder what words will be spoken to us. But if we are judged "by our own words", then we have a hand in choosing the words we will hear on that day.
May I never again say something I would not want to hear said back to me on that day. What words would I want to hear? When I think of words of forgiveness, these words would be sweet to my soul:
- "There is so much good in you. We'll remember the best, and the rest will be like it never happened. You'll see. This is a new beginning."
- "Is that even worth comparing to all the kindnesses you have shown, day after day, week after week, year after year? How could I see only the bad and overlook all the good?"
- "You're remembering what you said? I know that's not the kind of person you want to be. Let's put that behind us."
- "I have waited for the day when we could get past that. Consider it forgotten."
- "What I've really wanted is a chance to be reconciled to you. This place is better with you in it, and that's what matters to me now."