I came across two Greek words translated "anger" in the New Testament. The first is thumos, and refers to the anger I feel that causes a vein to bulge down the center of my forehead and my face to get all red. The word used in Matthew 5.22, however, is orgizo, a word that refers to the anger that smolders internally day after week after month after year. Jesus said the person who harbors this kind of anger without a cause is a murderer.
Oh, but I have a cause. I have a reason to be angry! Do I really?
In Matthew 18, we have the story of the master who forgave his slave's debt of ten million dollars only to discover that the slave threatened to kill a fellow slave over a debt of two thousand dollars. In telling this story, Jesus' point was that as real as the two thousand dollar debt was, it was nothing in comparison to the debt of which he had been forgiven. In other words, if all of my mixed motives, evil intentions, and sinful imaginations were brought to light, I would see that I owe a debt far greater than any owed to me, that I'm worse than the worst offense ever committed against me.
"So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny." - Matthew 5:23-26
Wow! That's pretty clear cut to the marrow! Looks like the only way to keep from murdering others is to be reconciled. And the only way to be reconciled is to come to an agreement with my enemy. Even if their facts are wrong, I'm a bigger sinner than they can even imagine. So I'm to go to them and say, "I'm wrong. I'm sorry. Please forgive me." If I don't, I'll end up in court. What court? The court that exists in my mind. The court where I practice law daily. I gather new witnesses and new evidence systematically. I build an airtight case, and every time court convenes, I win. The other guy never wins. Consequently, my relationships dwindle and my life grows smaller. Families divide. All hell breaks out. And although I may be technically, judicially, or legally right, I'm so wrong when I fail to reconcile with my adversary.
I know this because Jesus absorbed the blame for us totally. On the Cross, He absorbed the full punishment for our sin, paid the entire price for you and me. Even on the Cross, He said, "Father forgive them." And as a result, Jesus is free from the chains of death and the grave, just as you and I will be if we choose to absorb the blame wholly, completely, and unconditionally.