I struggle with the child-proof cap on the bottle of pain medication. Does it really have to be this hard to get the lid off? What kind of kids do they make these for anyway? Baby geniuses? Bottle opening savants? How hard does it have to be to keep them out?
The steady pulse of pain beating in my jaw is accented by little sizzling needles pricking into my tooth. Lightening bolts slash from my teeth to my head, exploding into blinding lights behind my eyes. If only I’d gone to the dentist a few of days ago when the pain started getting really bad.
The bottle of pain relievers opens suddenly, with a jerk. Pills bounce on the counter and onto the floor. It doesn’t matter. I swallow four quickly. If only I’d gone to the dentist when I first noticed the pain. Of course, I could have gone before I had any pain at all, but who does that?! My dentist keeps sending me those little postcards saying that it’s time for my regular cleaning and check-up, but I never really seem to have the time or money for that. Anyway, why fix what’s not broken, right?
Well, it’s broken now. I sit in the dentist chair waiting for the final analysis. She comes in looking very serious and sits down on the little rolling stool in the corner. She rolls over beside me and explains, “Your tooth is cracked down into the root and has become abscessed. Has that tooth been bothering you at all?”
“Well….um, sometimes, off and on, not a lot until recently.”
She looks at me with a knowing smile. “If you had come to see me when you first noticed a problem we probably could have fixed it easily. Some people don’t like to take the time or spend the money to fix something before it is really bad, but usually they end up spending much more time and money by waiting. Unfortunately most problems don’t fix themselves. Ultimately someone is going to have to fix it. The longer they wait the harder it is and the more time and money it takes. That’s what you’re looking at today - more time and money.”
I know she’s right. I am often guilty of letting a problem go too long before dealing with it and, as with the tooth, find myself in a situation far larger than it needs to be. Sometimes it just isn’t convenient to deal with the issue immediately and often it isn’t comfortable. But it is almost always the best thing to do, whether it’s seeing a dentist or a doctor, or even a mechanic about that noise in the engine of your car. It doesn’t go away, it grows.
But this principle doesn’t stop with these types of physical problems. It applies to personal relationships as well. When we encounter problems in a relationship it is always best to address them quickly, before they get so big that they are extremely hard to repair, or maybe they even get so big that we lose a friend.
Jesus tells us something about the importance of dealing with relationship problems quickly. He says:
"This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. Or say you're out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don't lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you're likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. If that happens, you won't get out without a stiff fine.”
Jesus makes it pretty clear that when there’s a rift in a relationship we should mend it quickly, even to the point of stopping something we are doing for Him in order to address the issue, whether with a friend or foe. If we’ve already waited long enough to make an enemy, Jesus says, “Don’t wait a minute. Make the first move,” or things could get really bad.
So, whatever it is, a cracked canine or a ruptured relationship, resolve it quickly or it may grow and take even up to ten times longer to repair.
Matthew 5:23-26 The Msg
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