21 Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25 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. 26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. Mat. 5:21-26
Let us begin right away with verse 25.
“ Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge…”
The Bible is talking in the Spirit, not in the natural; therefore, it is not talking about an earthly judge, but a heavenly one. There is a heavenly court, and there is an earthly court. Jesus was not therefore lawyer-ing in the natural; on the contrary, He was talking about things in the Spirit.
Here on earth, there is no place you can put someone on trial for being angry. Not even in the most despotic countries. There is no judge in the world who can utter the words, “You are hereby accused of anger.” Or of hatred, or lust.
These are things of the heart. Their court is heavenly, not earthly. And God, and not men, is the judge of these ‘crimes’ of the heart. And the Bible says we are to be reconciled with whoever we have committed these things before we reach to the judge. The Bible says,
“Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him”.
When exactly are you “in the way” with your adversary?
It is now. Now – right now – is the time to make our inner peace with every man. Who knows tommorrow? If we have anything – anything – in our hearts against a brother or sister, or, indeed, anyone, we need to make sure we clear that situation as quickly as possible with them. Then shall we be at peace with God, who is the true Judge of these things. As I said, no earthly judge is going to judge these things; but God will.
The Bible talks about issues of the heart. This is therefore a state of one’s heart. The heart that can do this is a repentant heart, a heart that pleases God (Is. 57:15; 66:2). This is the essence of the cross: to crucify our pride, and whoever and whatever we are, that Christ might live in us.
Recently, our church decided to hold an outdoor meeting in a certain village, and we were directed to the only person who could rent us sound equipment in that region. The minute we made contact with the man, that same evening he began sending us threatening messages, telling us that he would rent the equipment to other people if we did not pay immediately. We hurriedly came up with the money and paid him.
Unbeknownst to us, much of the equipment was unserviceable, and it would not perform. The worst part was that we realized this too late, just when the meeting had started. We went through a lot of trouble trying to get other equipment, and at more cost.
When I called him to explain the situation, the man again became hostile.
It was the perfect setting for hearts, especially mine, to be tested. The meeting was succesful, and a number of souls came to Christ. But, unknown to me, something was not right in my heart. But I only realized this after the meeting ended. After the meeting ended, something in me kept saying, “Call the man, and thank him.”
But I would push the thought away with the logic, “Why thank him? For failing us?”
I realized the problem was the pride in me. I feared that if I called, the man would not respond the way I wanted him to respond. I had discovered he was not a peaceful man. Probably he might insult me? Probably he would chastise me? So many scenarios came to my mind.
But, during one of those days, I locked horns with my heart. I said, “What if he were to kill me? Would I still stand up for the gospel?”
With that bold thought, I dialled the man’s number. I was determined to make peace with him at whatever cost.
When the man picked up the phone, and after the initial greetings, I told him that I wanted to thank him for the help that he had given us, and that I was sorry for whatever shortcomings might have arisen in our dealings with him.
I waited for his response. But it was not forthcoming. The man kept quiet for a while, and I thought he had gone away, but he had not. Finally, he spoke. He said, “Forgive me also for all that happened.” He spoke a few more words; but for me, that was enough.
I told him, “Forgive me also.” I loved the man.
Our peace was restored. But, at what a price! But it was a small price to pay compared to what I would have had to pay if I had allowed that situation to fester in my heart.