Remember, we’re reading this in the context of recently working our way through Paul’s letter to the Galatians about Grace and Law, Spirit and Law. So let’s be careful not to read this through Law eyes, but through Spirit eyes!
I’ve only ever heard this presented as a rule for Christians that we should not take other Christians to court, but should settle disputes between ourselves, with help from mature Christian brothers and sisters in the church. Is that how you’ve heard this addressed, too? I guess that is the “legal” aspect of this.
But look at these things Paul addresses that he (and the Holy Spirit?) considers even more important than staying out of civil court:
· How will we rule and reign with Christ in his Kingdom if we can’t settle ordinary disputes between ourselves and others in our Christian family?
· When we involve ourselves in disputes with others, we seldom resolve anything! Someone wins, someone loses. But a relationship is lost, and that’s a loss, not a win in God’s eyes!
· When we involve ourselves in legal disputes, it shows that we value our ego, our personal rights, or our personal property over people and relationships. With values like that, how will we live successfully under Christ’s rule? He always puts people above property and possessions!
· Here’s the actual mature response to disputes: “Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated?”
Friends, I’m not trying to be hard-nosed or hyper-spiritual here. I’m just saying that these are values-based matters, not just new rules to follow. You know what I mean?
Father, May my friends and I value what you value and love what you love. Amen!
Reading: 1 Corinthians 6, Psalm 127
1 When you have something against another Christian, why do you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter, instead of taking it to other Christians to decide who is right? 7 To have such lawsuits at all is a real defeat for you. Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated? 8 But instead, you yourselves are the ones who do wrong and cheat even your own Christian brothers and sisters. (1 Corinthians 6:1, 7-8 NLT)
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