Note from Jesus
Today’s verses are from 1 Corinthians. Paul had begun to address the sin and division damaging the holiness and fellowship in the house churches in Corinth. In yesterday’s verses, he wrote about dealing with the problems of illicit sexual relations and the Christians’ boasting about their open-mindedness at allowing it to go on in their fellowship. In today’s verses, Paul addresses the problem of lawsuits that believers were bringing against each other before unbelievers. He emphasizes the embarrassment that such lawsuits were bringing on My spiritual family due to the way that outsiders viewed the church.
Paul tells the Christians why they should prefer to be “ripped off or defrauded” by a fellow believer rather than go to court before unbelievers. He makes some important points about why there shouldn’t be lawsuits between Christians:
- Any disagreement believers cannot settle between themselves should be decided by using wise believers in the church family to resolve the issue. Christians should have more wisdom and better values on which to make such a decision. After all, the Father will have Christians judge “heavenly messengers” or angels at the end of time.
- Going to unbelievers to decide a legal matter is an embarrassment to the church.
- This legal action also places Christians under the authority of those “who have no allegiance to” Me or to My standards of morality and integrity.
The ultimate question you face in these matters is really pretty simple. Are you seeking My kingdom and My righteousness (Matthew 6:33) or are you trying to store up treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19-21)? When a person’s heart is more concerned about keeping what he or she has than it is about the good of My kingdom, then that person is living in darkness, and My following words of warning are relevant:
The eye is the lamp of the body. You draw light into your body through your eyes, and light shines out to the world through your eyes. So if your eye is well and shows you what is true, then your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eye is clouded or evil, then your body will be filled with evil and dark clouds. And the darkness that takes over the body of a child of God who has gone astray — that is the deepest, darkest darkness there is.
I want to encourage you, as Paul does, to find a way to solve your differences and not go to court (Luke 12:57-59). Paul said it well:
The truth is that these public lawsuits cause all of you to lose and lose big. Wouldn’t it be better to be ripped off or defrauded?
If you cannot work out a disagreement between yourselves, seek the help of wise brothers and sisters in Christ to help you come to a fair understanding (Matthew 18:16). Remember that there are more important things than your getting what you believe is fair in such matters. One of those more important things is the reputation of the Christian community among unbelievers, and another is not placing yourself under the authority of someone who does not live by My values of truth, honesty, and integrity.
Verses to Live
There are times when brothers and sisters in Christ disagree, disappoint each other, or even sin against each other. To help resolve these disputes, seek the wisdom of wise believers. Don’t go to court with each other before unbelievers and embarrass the church!
Here’s another troubling issue. If you have a grievance against another follower of Jesus, do you have the audacity to bring that brother or sister into the civil courts rather than submitting yourselves to the authority of God’s people? Don’t you know that His people are destined to judge the world? If you have the authority to judge the world, can’t you handle these small matters and render a better judgment than the civil courts? Further, don’t you know that we are destined to judge the heavenly messengers? So if we are to exercise authority in the heavenly realms, can’t we take care of the conflicts that arise in this life? To put it another way, if you are asking the courts to adjudicate your mundane conflicts, aren’t you placing your problems under the authority of judges who have no standing within the church? My words should embarrass you. Is it possible that you have no one among you with the wisdom to mediate between two siblings? So one brother sues another brother in public and drags the dispute before outsiders who have no allegiance to Jesus?
The truth is that these public lawsuits cause all of you to lose and lose big. Wouldn’t it be better to be ripped off or defrauded? In fact, you are guilty of ripping off and defrauding your own brothers and sisters, not the other way around.
(1 Corinthians 6:1-8)
Response in Prayer
Father, help me as I work on my heart to love You, Your people, and the reputation of Your people. I want to care about the reputation of Your people in the eyes of the world more than I love myself and my stuff. Help me, please dear Lord, for the world pulls at my heart. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.