Matthew 5:25 – 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. (KJV)
Proverbs 17:14 – The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with. (KJV)
An interesting thing happened on the first day my little dog and I had to pass by a picket line on our daily walk. From half a block away I could see a cat sitting on its haunches, and as we approached, the cat rose up, arched its back, tail in the air, claws out on its paws, positioned ready to pounce in attack.
My little dog didn't bark, but did, however try to turn towards the cat as if she might like to take a little lunge. I gently tugged her choke-chain, smiled at the picketers and said that it wasn't indicative of our feelings. But was it?
The picketers were perhaps more used to people voicing objections than not, and so braced themselves for an onslaught of such. Although we may not voice any objections we may have, a little wish to lunge out with words may just linger in the backs of our minds.
Whether or not I agree with what someone is standing up for or disagree with something directly related to me, to strike out verbally or physically only intensifies the situation, creates animosities and solves nothing. Indeed, in extreme cases, those who would lunge out may find themselves the object of prosecution as we are reminded in today's scripture, in Matthew 5:25.
It isn't always easy, but rather than let out our frustrations or disapproval at those on the frontline — be it a picket line, a receptionist at a company with whom we have a dispute, the agents whose airlines have announced a delay, or anyone not directly responsible — better we heed the words of Proverbs and think before we speak — especially if it could possibly be presented in a contentious manner.
Prayer: We recognize the frailties of human nature, Lord, that we sometimes don't think before we speak, that we want to lash out when we disagree, especially in those times when we are hurt or angry. We ask that you would grant us the grace to keep our thoughts "in check" in such situations, that we not add further discord, but seek to better understand. In your name we pray. Amen.