May 28, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters.”— 1 Corinthians 6:7–8 (NIV)
When I took my first job in ministry, I was asked to review and agree to the church’s bylaws. Most of them were pretty standard and all biblically based. However, one thing in particular, piqued my interest: They were requesting I avoid taking other believers to court. I had never heard of such a request and, to be frank, it seemed a little silly to me. If someone wronged me, shouldn’t I exercise my right to seek justice? Yes, but upon further inspection, that’s not what they were asking me to do. They were actually asking me to abide by the standard that Paul sets for us in this verse.
Paul makes himself very clear that Christians should not take each other to secular court over trivial matters. Now, let’s pause here for a moment and clarify this is not talking about actual criminal activity against you. Jesus makes it apparent that as Christians, we’re to submit to the laws put before us by our governing authorities, and if a law has been broken justice needs to be sought out. Paul is talking about minor disputes here, such as civil cases.
What Paul is teaching the Corinthians here would be a hard pill to swallow for anyone. It goes against our nature to walk away from seeking what’s “fair.” Yet, God calls us to remember that He will bring justice that is due, and loving each other is far more valuable for the kingdom than seeking our own justice on Earth. This is why Paul asks the questions, “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?”
It’s not unreasonable to expect better treatment from fellow believers, and those boundaries can absolutely be set once trust is broken. However, taking petty, civil matters to court not only goes against what God calls us to do, but it also sullies His name for the sake of man-made justice.
So, what can you do when you’re called to lose? The first thing is to bring it to God and trust that He will remain true to His Word in dealing with other people. The second is to remember that even if you don’t take this person to physical court, you also should not defile their name amongst your peers. While we serve a God of justice, we also serve a God of mercy, and we’re called to follow suit.
Pause: Has there been a time in my life when I’ve sought justice over a trivial thing outside of God?
Practice: Mercy is a learned virtue. Practice it daily and offer it to those who do and do not deserve it.
Pray: Lord, forgive me for trying to take justice into my own hands. I know You are the ultimate judge. Please give me the strength to love first and walk a life filled with mercy. Amen.
Kristen Hollis has served in the Communications Team of Calvary since 2020 as a Senior Copywriter and Editor. She contributes and edits content for Calvary’s digital and promotional initiatives. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and Communications from Palm Beach Atlantic University. Kristen and her husband Zachary enjoy all things musical theatre, vinyl hunting, and having the opportunity to serve Calvary on staff while utilizing their talents.