1CORINTHIANS 6:1-11 (NIV – UK)
Lawsuits among believers
1 If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? 2 Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother takes another to court – and this in front of unbelievers!
7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. 9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
RECONCILIATION WITHIN THE CHURCH FAMILY
Have you ever had a dispute with a fellow brother or sister in Christ? Those types of situation can be messy. Who is right, who is wrong? There comes a big problem when some form of damage or loss has been caused by one to another – what on earth should we do? Perhaps the natural instinct might be to use the legal system to see justice done. That seems sensible, no? Well it comes as a shock, perhaps, to hear Paul warning against using the legal system when it comes to disputes between two Christians within the church. ‘Do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people?’ (v. 1).
So what would Paul have happen instead? Well, he says that disputes should be settled within the church – maybe with some help from fellow brothers and sisters (v. 5). One of Paul’s main concerns is that Christians would subject themselves to the judgement of the ‘worldly’ – ‘those whose way of life is scorned in the church?’ (v. 4).
But the most crucial reason that underpins all of this is that the bond between Christian brothers and sisters should be so strong that we truly desire to reconcile with one another following a dispute. All those who are in Jesus are adopted brothers and sisters – in Jesus’ blood sharing Jesus’ blood – and as such, the love between us should trump all else and lead us to seek reconciliation where it is needed. For this reason, it is desirable that disputes should not be settled in the courts of this world, but instead within the church family – in an atmosphere of love and reconciliation.
Question: Do you/would you seek reconciliation in your church family when it’s needed?