As an attorney, this chapter gets a little personal…Well not really! The real issue for the church is that we are all simply stewards of what belongs to our Father. One of my dearest prayer partners is my former law school roommate. Ironically, He is a very prominent trial attorney. In addition, my Sunday School teacher is a Hall of Fame trial lawyer and the nation’s leading trial attorney according to most polls.
If we were to do a panel discussion on this subject, the three of us would agree—we cannot sue each other as family members over petty little disputes. God owns it all. Make no mistake, because we are humans, we have no depth of degradation. We each have the capacity to do one of our fellow Christian brothers or sisters wrong. What is more, we all are potential victims of being treated poorly by another in God’s family.
I am not sure where the line is properly drawn, but Paul is primarily speaking about using the courts to settle petty disputes between believers. We, as a family, need to humble ourselves and work things out. Sometimes, we also have to walk away from our violated rights and property knowing that God will restore us and will balance the scales. If we can trust the Lord with our eternal souls, we have to trust him with what we have been given charge over during this part of the journey.
It is not an easy sacrifice. We have been trained to stand up for our rights and protect what we have earned. That is proper. But sometimes we have to recognize our need to step back and accept what the Lord has planned even when we feel we have been cheated by family.
At age 60, I have witnessed and experienced tragic loss and difficult encounters in the church. Some of the most injured, simply forgave and moved on and allowed God to be the vindicator and judge. In God’s time, He did great things; despite the hurt and pain that showed up along the way.
It is not wrong to expect to be treated fairly by other believers. It is not even wrong to seek intervention in the protection of one’s life and family. But Paul is reminding believers that the wicked world is watching; and it loves to see the army of God kick its own wounded.
Let’s not give Satan, or the world the satisfaction of sitting ringside while Christians are at each other’s throats. We should be the most ethical and diligent when we deal with each other. We should also be the most gracious and merciful.
God Bless You
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 men[a] 10 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.