Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 6 May 21:
1 Corinthians 6: 1, 4, 5, 7 — When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? … So, if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame…. To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?
Christians are not to take disputes between one another to the secular court system – this is shameful and defeats our witness before the world. It is better to suffer wrong and be defrauded than to defame the Church and the Name of Christ with public, worldly disputes.
In Matthew 18:15-20, Jesus gives us specific instructions for how to settle disputes with Christians — “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Jesus spoke in a more challenging way about disputes in Matthew 5:38-41 — “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”
Matters between Christians are to be settled within the church by leaders within the congregation; but how often have you seen Christians actually adhere to this teaching? Today we even see entire church denominations suing each other in public, secular courts, surrendering their authority as “priests” to unbelievers. And how often do we see Christians going to secular counselors to solve their problems instead of church leaders? What does this say about the condition of the church? How much do church culture and norms reflect what God actually intended for the body of Christ? What might you have accepted that is unacceptable?
More verses for consideration:
- Romans 12:17-21 — Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
- Matthew 5:43-48 — “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
- 1 Peter 3:9 — Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:15 — See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
- Proverbs 20:22 — Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.
- Luke 9:23 — And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 6 May 21: Today, practice being wronged in a way that brings glory to God, using the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel rather than to defend your ‘rights.’