The Litigious Church – Part Three

1 Corinthians 6:1-11 This week’s lessons teach us how Christians are to resolve conflict with other Christians.
Secular authority and the Church

Now concerning this matter of being cheated, we must understand that there is a difference between what you will endure as an individual in terms of personal conflict, and what you should endure on behalf of someone else. It is quite different for somebody to cheat me and for me to say, “Well, all right, he’s a Christian brother. Even though I’m in the right and he is in the wrong, rather than pursue this, I’ll allow myself to be cheated. He can take that and go. I’ll just count it a loss. I’ll write it off. I will trust God for the outcome.” That is entirely appropriate on an individual basis.

But if somebody else is being cheated, it is not Christian behavior for me to stand by and say, “Well, Christian, it is all right for you to get cheated. Go ahead and get cheated. It is none of my business.” On the contrary, so far as I am able I should enter into the fray at that point in order to maintain justice in that particular case. When we enter into struggles alongside of other Christians, whether it goes to court or not, we must be very discerning in the counsel we give.

Harry Ironside, in his commentary on 1 Corinthians, tells of something that happened to him when he was a young boy in Canada. His parents said, “I want you to come to church and witness the settling of a dispute that is taking place.” I suppose they thought it was going to work out well, but when they got there, things did not seem to be going well. In this particular church there was a tremendous battle going on between two of the leaders. Finally, one of the leaders stood up, shaking in his anger. He said, “There are certain things I will not tolerate. One thing I will not tolerate is to be defrauded of my rights.”

There was a Scottish brother there who seemed to be hard of hearing or at least he was pretending to be. He said, as lawyers sometimes do in court, “What was that? I did not quite hear that.” The first man repeated, “One thing I will not tolerate is to be defrauded of my rights!” “Pardon me, I did not quite get that,” the Scottish brother said again. “Would you say that again?” So the man repeated it a third time. Then finally, this old Scotchman said, “Yes, I thought that was what I heard you say. Is it really the pattern of Christians not to be defrauded of their rights? Jesus came to this earth not to get his rights but to get his wrongs.”

And at that point, as Harry Ironside remembers, the man who had been shaken with anger began to shake in contrition. He broke down and began to weep. He said, “Yes, that is correct, and I am wrong. I withdraw the objection.” What a marvelous way to have disputes resolved. That should be the pattern in the Christian church.

Study Questions
  1. How is Jesus an example to us in how we view our personal rights?

Has there been an incident in your own life recently in which you have insisted on claiming your rights? In thinking about today’s lesson, how could you have handled that situation differently? If possible, go back and amend the outcome so that someone else’s rights are met.

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