Matthew 5:21-24 21You have heard that it was said to the men of old, You shall not kill, and whoever kills shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court. 22But I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother or harbors malice (enmity of heart) against him shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court; and whoever speaks contemptuously and insultingly to his brother shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, You cursed fool! [You empty-headed idiot!] shall be liable to and unable to escape the hell (Gehenna) of fire. 23So if when you are offering your gift at the altar you there remember that your brother has any [grievance] against you, 24Leave your gift at the altar and go. First make peace with your brother, and then come back and present your gift.
In the Old Testament God gave commandments to Moses for the children of Israel to live by. You can find them all in Exodus 20, but one of them was Thou shalt not kill. Some of us may read that and think, “Well there is no way that I would ever kill anyone. I’m good there.” Not so fast! Verse 22 says that if we have anger in our hearts it’s the same thing as killing. That will make you think twice before you get mad next time, right? The verse goes on to say that if we speak contemptuously- which is feeling, expressing, or demonstrating a strong dislike, or utter lack of respect for somebody or something- about our brother, we will not escape punishment. It is so important for us to be careful how we treat one another.
It is so important that, as we see in verse 23-24, if we know someone is harboring an offense against us God doesn’t even want our offerings until we clear it up with them. We are instructed to go and make peace with our brother, then come back and give. It seems that God wants us to have every opportunity to repent for harboring grievances. Can you imagine if you were angry at someone and they came to you, and said, “I know you are angry, but I ask you to forgive me”? I think of that verse in Proverbs 15:1 1A SOFT answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger. If we know someone has an offense against us and we go to them with a soft word rather than ignoring them, or continuing the argument, we can diffuse their anger and help them get back to a place of right-standing with God. When we remain angry we open the door to the devil in our lives. In Ephesians 4:26-27 says 26When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. 27Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him]. This verse doesn’t say don’t ever get angry, it says don’t remain angry. We all have times when we will get angry in our lives, but as long as we don’t harbor it, as long as we let it go and forgive, we will remain under the protection of God.