Our thoughts have power to either construct or destruct, rarely are thoughts neutral.
Anger has entered my mind, more often than I would like to admit. Sometimes it is fleeting or at least dealt with and gone, but what Jesus is talking about here involves anger that has been brought into harbor, anchored down, and maintained. Anger like that cannot be contained merely as thoughts, it errupts and my actions and my words. Either directly assaulting the object of my anger or assaulting those who just get in the way, my words can do damage that murders. How easy it is to drive someone down by using caustic words like “fool”, “idiot”, “stupid” or gossiping behind someone’s back. Spoken thoughts cannot be easily controlled nor can the effects be easily undone. Perhaps that is why Jesus makes such a point of it. Perhaps that is why later, Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthian Church:
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV)
Additionally, in this passage Jesus makes it clear that as a Christian, in right standing with God, that it is my responsibility out of love and thankfulness to worship God by being the first to clear the air with friends…I should be the first to forgive…and not just with friends but with enemies as well. Not only will my worship of God be unhindered by harbored bad feelings, but civil issues can also be resolved. Whatever happens, I should be the first to forgive.
Passages of scripture like this one, direct words from my Lord challenge me in ways most people do not see in me. Mainly because I really do want to forgive, but just when I think I have…just when it is safe to go back in the water (JAWS 2)…the offense will rise in my thoughts and attack me. I am learning slowly to immediately present it to God, to thwart the arrows of the Enemy and call on Jesus. Slow learner that I am, I know that I cannot, but GOD CAN..and He does.