Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
- Matthew 5:25-26
As Americans we hate waiting. We scan the Walmart lines to see which one we think we can get through the quickest. We destroy our bodies with fast "food." We gripe about lines at airports...even though the lines are for our own good! We can't stand a long wait at a restaurant. We complain when someone is supposed to meet us and they are late.
But there is at least one thing that most of us are all too ready to wait for. Sadly, we don't mind at all waiting to see if a relational storm will just blow over instead of following Jesus' advice and taking care of it now!
I don't have a ton to say about this passage because the bulk of what needed to be said, I said last week: making amends with our brothers and sisters for something we have done wrong or for something that has been perceived as us doing something wrong is such an urgent matter that it is better to postpone our worship in order to make things right with a brother or sister than to continue worshiping our mutual Father acting like we are not fighting with His beloved child.
But in verses 25-26, Jesus points out the practical reason for acting quickly when conflict brews. Whether you want to admit wrong-doing or not, in the end, it will just be much more likely to end well if you go ahead and humble yourself instead of waiting to see what will happen.
Of course He uses an earthly picture to explain the benefits of quick action in disputes. If you are being taken to court, it makes a lot of sense to do everything in your power to work things out before it actually gets to the judge because once it gets to the judge, you have absolutely ZERO say left in the matter. Whatever the judge says goes even if that means imprisonment until you have paid to the very last penny. But the judge that we are going to face some day will not just require us to pay gold or silver...the only just retribution that I can pay for wounding a child of the Eternal King of the universe is my eternal soul. THAT'S the point Jesus is making.
"I'll call them tomorrow."
"I'll wait until they cool down."
"I'll just see how things turn out because I'm not ready to deal with this yet."
"I'll wait till they apologize first."
That's about the dumbest attitude we can possibly have. What if there is no tomorrow, they never cool down, we are never ready to deal with it, or they never apologize? We will still have to stand in front of a righteous judge who will ask us to give an account for the words we have said, the attitudes we have shown, and the bitterness we have harbored....
...unless we have trusted in Jesus as Christ. And if we have done that, then we will stand before The Judge justified and free of guilt because the payment has already been made in full. But trusting in Christ means trusting his teachings about life...not just trusting his salvation. I can't have one without the other and it's silly to claim to trust in one without also trusting in the other.
So how about it...who do you need to call today? Or you can put off thinking about it until the next time you start getting frustrated while waiting in line. Just remember that by then there might be absolutely nothing you can do about it.