We are responsible for our behavior. But sometimes we find ourselves on a slippery slope where it seems as if we can’t stop saying or doing really nasty things.
When our children were young they used to go sledding in the winter. There was a very steep hill that was made much slicker by hosing it down. There was a moment of choice at the top of the hill. Once people moved, even a few inches, over the edge, there were no more choices until they reached the bottom.
This reminds me of the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount where he tells his listeners to deal with a situation quickly, not going down the slope that leads to prison.
“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.” Matthew 5:25
The adversary is the truth that supports you in resisting negative thoughts.
The way is the direction the negative thought is leading you.
Handing over to the judge refers to the way our thoughts have been strengthened by negative feelings.
The prison is the state of being in bondage to our negative state.
Settling the matter quickly (or in the King James: agreeing with your adversary quickly) means cutting this process short so that negative thoughts don’t take you on a path that leads to horrible feelings and actions (the prison).
One of the hardest aspects of spiritual work is remembering to do it. The quicker we are to being aware of a possible slip into negativity, the easier it is to avoid it.