Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. (Matthew 5:25-26)
What is an Adversary?
Typically when we hear the word adversary, we think of Satan or an evil enemy. However, Christ uses this term to simply describe someone who is in conflict with you. They may or may not be in the right in this conflict, but they are most definitely your adversary at the moment. Sorry isn't enough for them. They feel wronged, are sometimes hostile, and desire retribution for what has been done to them. Christ likens it to a court proceeding. Civil court cases are designed help two or more parties come to an amicable agreement. Imagine if we looked at all of our conflicts as such.
The term agree is also translated as to give yourself wholly to. In this case, it means to put your complete attention and care into making right what was wrong. When we have conflict with somebody, it's easy to point fingers and lay blame, but Christ is telling us to dive in and try and find the solution. Make penance for misdeeds with a loving heart. Work to resolve hurtful words with words of mercy and grace that come from prayer and repentance. If that person's feelings are misguided or wrong, still trying to work with the person to reconcile why they have those feelings is the right thing to do.
Most people, when they see our willingness to put our full effort into resolving the issue, are willing to work with us rather than against us. Working with them instead of against them also preserves our witness with that individual and helps them from falling into one of the stages of anger from Lesson 4 as well.
Christ shows that if we don't work together to resolve our issues, we'll find ourselves imprisoned. In Christ's day, if you refused to resolve issues that required payment, you could be thrown in jail until you were willing and/or able to pay off the debt. Christ let's us know that we will be trapped in a spiritual prison if we don't resolve issues with others. God won't move us forward if we have outstanding spiritual debts against another individual. He won't use a spiritual criminal who holds grudges, refuses to forgive past sins that have been repented , or chooses to remain obstinate in their ways rather than reconciling their differences with others.
Not A Doormat
One final note on working with adversaries. Christ doesn't tell us to cave to sinners or let people walk over us. He just requests that we do everything we can to reconcile with others. If we put forth effort with good and righteous intentions, God will honor that. If someone tries to exploit our kindness, God will direct us in what to do to avoid becoming a doormat. We just must put our trust in Him that He won't lead us into a situation that will cause us harm.
Make Peace And Be Counted As His
What our adversaries do with our offer will determine their standing with God. For us, we'll come out of the shadow of anger and its penalties and walk in the light of peace and happiness. If we work to reconcile with others, though, we'll find the doors of opportunity flung open and a clear path in front of us. Moreover, by working to reconcile with others, we'll become a peacemaker, and they are called the children of God (Matthew 5:9). And that is the best reward we could ever hope to receive.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.