Jesus Christ is laying down a principle: we must do what we know we should, and we must do it quickly. If we don’t, an inevitable process will begin to unfold, and before it is over we will have paid all we have in agony and distress: “Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny” (Matthew 5:26). God’s laws are unalterable. We cannot escape them.

This teaching of Jesus speaks directly to human nature. Naturally I want my adversary to give me what is rightfully mine. But from my Lord’s standpoint, it doesn’t matter if someone takes advantage of me. What matters is that I do not take advantage of someone else. What matters is that I pay what I owe. It is a question of eternal and imperative importance to my soul. Am I insisting on my own rights, or am I looking at things from Jesus Christ’s viewpoint and paying what I owe?

Bring yourself to judgment now on anything unsettled in your life. Our insistence in proving that we are right is nearly always a sign that we’ve been disobedient. As long as you are disobeying any point of God’s teaching, he won’t prevent his Spirit from working on you, putting you through the inevitable process. No wonder Scripture urges us so strongly to keep in the light as he is in the light (1 John 1:7). God is determined to have his children as pure and clean as new-fallen snow (Isaiah 1:18).

Have you suddenly turned a corner in one of your relationships and discovered anger in your heart? Confess it quickly. Put it right before God quickly. Be reconciled with that person. Do it now.

Wisdom from Oswald

To those who have had no agony Jesus says, “I have nothing for you; stand on your own feet, square your own shoulders. I have come for the man who knows he has a bigger handful than he can cope with, who knows there are forces he cannot touch; I will do everything for him if he will let Me. Only let a man grant he needs it, and I will do it for him.”
The Shadow of an Agony