1 The Lord is taking note of your sins, and if you take vengeance on someone, the Lord will take vengeance on you. 2 But if you forgive someone who has wronged you, your sins will be forgiven when you pray. 3 You cannot expect the Lord to pardon you while you are holding a grudge against someone else. 4 You yourself are a sinner, and if you won't forgive another person, you have no right to pray that the Lord will forgive your sins. 5 If you cannot get rid of your anger, you have no hope of forgiveness—you are only a human being. 6 Think about it! Some day you will die, and your body will decay. So give up hate and live by the Lord's commands, 7 the commands in the covenant of the Most High. Instead of getting upset over your neighbor's faults, overlook them.
8 If you stay out of arguments, you will not sin so much, because a hot temper gets them started. 9 It is sinful to break up a friendship by creating hostility among people who get along well together. 10 The more fuel, the hotter the fire. The more stubbornness, the hotter the argument. And the stronger or richer people are, the angrier they can afford to become. 11 An argument that blazes out suddenly can lead to violence. 12 You can blow on a spark to make it glow, or you can spit on it to put it out. Either way, you do it with your mouth.
Vicious Talk
13 Gossips and liars deserve to be cursed, because they have been the ruin of many people who were minding their own business. 14 Many have had their lives ruined and have been driven from their homes because of people who meddled in their business. Such unwanted interference has resulted in the destruction of strong cities and the homes of respected people. 15 Meddlers have caused faithful wives to be divorced, robbed of everything they had worked for. 16 Anyone who pays attention to slander can never find peace of mind. 17 A whip can raise a welt, but a vicious tongue can break bones. 18 More people have died as a result of loose talk than were ever killed by swords. 19-20 Count yourself lucky if you have been spared the experience of having irresponsible talk directed against you—if you have never had that iron yoke around your neck or those heavy chains on your legs. 21 Slander leads to a miserable death; but in fact, you'd be better off dead.
22 Devout people, however, cannot be overcome by slander; they cannot be burned by its flames. 23 Its victims are those who have abandoned the Lord; once the fire of slander has been lit among them, it cannot be put out. Slander will pounce on them like a lion and tear them to pieces like a leopard.
24 Don't you fence in your property? Don't you lock up your money? 25 Well, be just as careful with what you say. Weigh every word, and have a lock ready for your mouth. 26 Someone may be waiting for you to slip, and if you are not careful, you will stumble over your own words and fall down in front of him.