Why We Need to Forgive
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.”—Matthew 5:21-22
Most of us have never deliberately murdered.
But Jesus goes deeper than outward actions and appearances. He gets right to the heart.
Both love and murder begin in our hearts. Jesus is not saying that anger always leads to murder. He is saying this kind of unjust anger ismurder. Not a holy anger against sin, but an unholy anger against people.
The word Jesus used here for anger means “a settled anger, or malice that is nursed inwardly.”
Anger that passes through different stages: First, it’s an offense. We are offended by an action or words. As you nurse that offense it brews into bitterness, then judgment. When you have judged people long enough, you demean and scorn them until you are filled with full-blown hatred.
The anger simmers, the pilot light is always burning, and you can’t let go.
We all have imperfect parents, siblings, spouses, friends, and other people in our lives. But if we cannot forgive, we build a prison of bitterness and pain around our lives. And a wall between you and God.
Jesus said, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Settle matters quickly” (Matthew 5:23-25).
Settle matters quickly.
Jesus commanded – not suggested or gave good tips for living— commanded:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ …and ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:3031).
To love our neighbor (parent, sibling, friend), we need to forgive, just as God lovingly forgives us.