Read Matthew 5:25-26
25 “When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny. (NLT)
Those who have great experience in our judicial system warn people against going to court too readily. It is not as if you won’t be treated justly. It is rather that getting justice might be time consuming and costly. And you can never be sure that the ‘justice’ you receive will be to your liking. Better to nip things in the bud and sort things out before they get to the stage of needing judicial intervention.
Jesus urges a similar procedure. He has been talking about broken relationships and how they need to be put right. Here he is urging us to put them right as quickly as we can. If we don’t, we may end up worse off. In postponing what might be an uncomfortable encounter or humbling experience, we might open ourselves up to something far more damaging.
We are not to let wounds fester, we are not to chew the cud of our old resentments, we are not to relive ancient feuds. These will cripple us. In choosing not to face those from whom we are estranged, we are choosing a haunted and shadowed life. Of course it may be we can’t physically face such people—they may be dead or far away. In those cases, we deal with it internally, resolving to not let the wounds become septic.
Whether the other person settles with us or not can’t be our responsibility. We take the step, we make the attempt. We face the pain in order to avoid a deeper pain.