“…settle your differences quickly.” (Matthew 5:25a NLT)
There is a principle that I learned early in my walk with God that has proven helpful across the years. The principle is to keep short accounts with people and with God. What does that mean? It means if you’re having an issue with someone, don’t wait for them to come to you, go to them and get it worked out. The same applies in our walk with the Lord.
Of course, with the Lord, the problem’s going to be with us, so we need to go to Him and confess our need for forgiveness, understanding, guidance, support, or whatever we need to get through whatever is going on in our lives that’s pulling us away from Him.
In terms of Scripture, there are several, but the ones that come immediately to mind are in Matthew 5. First, in verses 23-24 Jesus says: “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”
For our purposes, this might be when you’re at church enjoying corporate worship, or praying at home, it can be anywhere. But the point is – whenever the Lord lays it on your heart that someone has something against you or, you have something against someone else, go and be reconciled.
Then in verse 25 it talks about if you’re being sued and on your way to court, Jesus said: “settle your differences quickly.” Why is that so important? There are numerous very practical reasons, but the biggest reason for those of us who are Jesus followers is that it interferes with our relationship with God. Issues with another person or entity (i.e. bank, landlord, government, etc.) weighs on our mind and heart and distracts us from our focus on communicating with and/or serving the Lord.
Paul reminds us in Romans 12:18 that we should: “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” The implication here is that we may not be at fault, or we can’t make another person live at peace with us, but inasmuch as our heart is clear before the Lord and we’ve done all we can to live at peace with the other person, that’s all God expects. The point is, we’ve got to keep a clear channel open between us and God, and conflict with another person interferes with that.
But we’re also to keep short accounts with God. How so? The issue in our relationship with God isn’t always and only sin. It can be neglect, indifference, laziness, in short, anything that gets ahead of God in terms of our heart priorities, which can, and often does, lead to sin. Whatever it is, go quickly to the Lord and ask for His help in making things right.
What’s the bottom line? Love. Our constant goal is to love God supremely and others as we love ourselves. Keeping short accounts with people and with God moves us in the direction of fulfilling the law of love in and through our lives.
Whether we like it or not, as Jesus followers we are to be salt and light in this world. To what end? To create a positive “taste” of Jesus in the hearts and minds of those who don’t yet know Him. And to be a beacon of light to show them the way to our Savior.
Blessings, Ed 😊