Q: “What does it mean to agree with your adversary quickly? Does it mean that we are to compromise with them to get along with them?”
A: It is important to note the text in which this word is being used. The word “adversary” is in relationship to someone being your opponent, especially in some type of legal matter which Matthew 5:25 makes reference to, and is brought out in Matthew 5:26 to be a possible unpaid debt. Christians are not to use the courts of this world to settle matters because it can affect the effectiveness of their testimony before the world. In fact, Christians fighting among themselves in the courts of the land brings a reproach on the Gospel that speaks of peace and not conflict (1 Corinthians 6:1-12; Ephesians 6:15).
It is clear that if there is a legal matter pending against us, we must do all we can to settle it in a most congenial way. If we owe a debt, we must pay it, or if we are at fault or neglectful in relationship to an agreement or contract in some way, we must be willing to take responsibility for it in order to properly address it and do what is right. If we have unintentionally caused offense for someone, we must do all we can to rectify it by acknowledging it so there can be some healing or reconciliation. We must not cover any questionable action by demanding we are right when we aren’t, nor are we to take accountability for something we are not guilty of in order to appear honorable by accepting responsibility for it or make those who are in the wrong or deluded feel justified, because that would point to adhering to a false way (Psalm 119:104,128; Matthew Romans 13:8). Keep in mind, if we are doing right by God and others, He can bring peace between them and us (Proverbs 16:7).
The opponents that Matthew is talking about are people, but we know we also have three spiritual opponents that we must overcome, for there will never be any agreement or reconciliation with them. They are Satan, the flesh and the world. Satan seduces, the flesh tempts and the world entices us. With Satan we are to stand in the authority of our Lord in humility, in the power of His Spirit and with faith, lift up God’s Word against him. When it comes to our flesh, we must crucify it and when it comes to the world, we must come out and be separate from its systems, influences, and dependencies to overcome (Galatians 6:14; James 4:7-10; 1 John 2:14-17).
The Bible is clear as to how we are to handle our opponents. When it comes to our enemies, we must love them, which means there is a commitment to do what is right by them. For those who persecute us we must pray for them which gives God an opportunity to give us His perspective so that we can keep our heart tender towards Him and others. For those in trespasses (against God), we are to go to them in love and meekness to contend for their souls, and for the people who offend our pride, sense of justice, or beliefs, love must cover those offenses (Matthew 5:44; 18:15-17; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; 1 Peter 4:8)
It is important to point out that we are not to sacrifice truth to have peace with opponents because it shows we do not love the truth. We are not to compromise morally with anyone because that means we are partaking of their sin. We must not fudge with what is just in order to get a desired result because that will prove to be unrighteous to the Lord (Romans 1:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12; 1 Corinthians 5:6-13).
We can conclude with the Apostle Paul’s instruction about this matter in Romans 12:18, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”