“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny." (Matt. 5:25-26)
Why 'settle matters quickly'?This is some of Jesus’ wisdom, intended to assist his students in practical life.
Jesus' statement is still applicable today, as we find so many people fight each other within the legal system. This is not only draining, but it takes our focus off the important things in life - that is, our spiritual growth. Our spiritual growth is the reason we are here. If we are not growing spiritually during our lifetime, then we are wasting our time here.
During that time, people who had disagreements pleaded their case before a temple judge, and this judge alone determined how the disagreement should be settled.
Can this apply today?In many countries today, the court system is divided between criminal cases - where the government takes a person to court to try him for a crime - and civil litigation - where a plaintiff takes a defendant to court over a conflict, seeking a judgment against the other person.
Jesus’ statement here could well be applied to civil cases, where the plaintiff and defendant could easily reach a settlement prior to the trial to avoid wasting judges’ time and taxpayers’ money. Again, it must be noted here that many of Jesus’ teachings are meant for a particular time and circumstance. As such we are cautioned to try to over-extend their meaning beyond their practical purpose.
The biggest takeaway point here is to “settle matters quickly with your adversary” before they become bigger issues. This relieves us of the focus and attention on petty matters, allowing us to utilize more of our time to grow spiritually. The most important focus in our life should upon reviving our relationship with God.
This is why Jesus' most important teaching was:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)