Tuesday, 17 June 2014
Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 1 Corinthians 6:1
In Chapter 5, Paul detailed “judging” for both those inside the church and noting that the church isn’t the arbiter of matters outside the church. Now he is turning the same thought around. The reason for this isn’t explicitly stated, but it is alluded to in verse 6:6 which is just ahead.
Just as the church is to judge matters which occur within the church, the church is not to have such matters judged by those outside the church. It is a point of obvious grief to him and he will detail why as he proceeds. To stress the magnitude of the issue, he asks “Dare any of you…?” It is a note of rebuke or a note of extreme warning. In essence, as Bengel notes, it “implies treason against Christian brotherhood.” What he will continue with is something bordering on sacred.
And so he continues, “Dare any of you, having a matter against another…” There will always arise disputes between people. This has occurred since the beginning and it will continue throughout the age. People perceive things differently and feel they have a right to a legal remedy for injustices committed against them. But within the body of believers, Paul demonstrates that when such a thing arises, they should not even dare to “go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints.”
The absurdity of following such a course will be explained, but even before reaching those verses, it is possible to think through many reasons why this shouldn’t occur. If the saints are declared righteous, then how could a fair legal decision be rendered in a court ruled by the unrighteous? Suppose a believer has wronged another believer and is unwilling to own up to his wrong. What would preclude him from bribing an unrighteous judge to maintain his supremacy in the matter?
Additionally, what kind of example would a church or church member be setting if he were to take such matters before a non-believing body? What will be the perception of those non-believers concerning the power of Jesus, the charitableness between believers, or the ability for a church to handle matters of even greater weight (meaning spiritual matters)? If they can’t handle earthly problems, why should they be trusted with the eternal issues that religion is supposed to handle.
For these and other reasons, it is entirely inappropriate for believers within a church to not attempt to arbitrate their differences within the church setting.
Life application: How important is a matter that you would be willing to bring discredit upon the name of Jesus? At what point does an offense justify degrading Him in the presence of the unrighteous. Paul’s words ask us to consider this and to act accordingly.
Heavenly Father, You have forgiven me for so much and You have done so without holding it over my head. In Your great grace and mercy, You have forgotten my misdeeds because of what Jesus did for me. Now Lord, help me to act in the same way towards those who come to me asking for forgiveness and reconciliation. Help me not to turn my heart away from such an act, but to accept terms of peace and harmony. How can I withhold forgiveness over such little offenses when You have granted it for a life of disobedience against You. Help me in this Lord. Amen.