58 For while you are going with your opponent to appear before the magistrate, on your way there make an effort to settle with him, so that he may not drag you before the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison.
59 “I say to you, you will not get out of there until you have paid the very last cent.”
Luke 12:58-59 (NASB)
Christ shares this seemingly odd analogy at the end of a passage (Luke 12:49-57) where he describes the nature of his impact on the future state of the world. He talks about casting “fire on the earth” (Luke 12:49). He mentions dividing “father against and son against father, mother again daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law” (Luke 12:53). He points out some additional signs of the world to come and then ends with the passage above, as if to underscore the importance of “settling accounts” with God. Indeed, God is the ultimate Debtor – the one to whom we owe the most important amends. In the realm of eschatology (things associated with end times), it is of ultimate importance that we settle the question of faith once and for all.
As I pondered this passage though, I thought about another application – an application that is very fitting in the work environment. The word “opponent” can be similarly translated to “adversary” or “enemy”. In this life, who is my enemy? As believers we wrestle against The enemy (Satan), but we also wrestle against people whom we label as “enemies”. I once heard this type of individual described as the person who causes me to experience a negative emotion, whenever I think of them. In the context of this passage the word “opponent” has the likeness of a plaintiff in a trial – someone who brings a charge that must be defended against. Whether I harbor hurt, unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness or unresolved offence against someone, my unwillingness to process and let go becomes an indictment. I stand charged with an inability to release the person’s hold on my emotional response. My sense of peace is held hostage.
Who are the people that fall into this category for you? Their presence or thought of them causes you to cycle into negative feelings. We all have them. If your list has at least one person on it, then it is time to offer forgiveness and/or conduct an “amends” - a term borrowed from the world of addiction recovery. Open up, to people whom you trust and who have your best interest at heart, about the process that you go through to get to the point of negativity. Seek their help and support to do the necessary thing of offering meaningful forgiveness or preparing an amends for an offence caused. I have learnt that there is always a window of opportunity to do my part and regain my peace, after which the consequences of the “last cent” seem to escalate without abating. Avoid this as best as you can.