Chapter 6:1-11 (ESV) - When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 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. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Question to consider: Why should we seek to solve disputes among Christians within the church?
The contemporary church seems to have a lot in common with the ancient church at Corinth. We divide over worldly things and yet ignore sinful behavior within the church and allow it to fester. Instead of preaching the gospel to those outside of the church, we try to change their behavior through legislation hoping that God will bless us with financial success as a Christian nation. And just like in today’s passage, when people in the church have grievances with one another, we bring civil suits against our brothers and sisters in Christ instead of trying to reconcile through the church.
Paul will speak further about the resurrection and judgment later in his letter, but here he made the point that they shouldn’t be consulting unbelievers about justice when they would one day rule with Christ. In this, Paul was not telling them to ignore injustices in the church but to deal with them wisely in a Christ-like manner. It would be better to suffer injustice from a brother in Christ than to consult those who have no inheritance in the kingdom of God. Why? Because the church will take an eternal perspective on injustices whereas the world will judge things in a strictly secular manner. The church is concerned with both justice and mercy. The church is concerned with reconciliation between brothers as well as with Christ.
As I mentioned yesterday, those outside of Christ are identified with their sin. They not only steal but are thieves. They not only fall to temptation but are defined by their sexuality. They not only put things before God but are idolaters and so on... However, those in Christ have been washed clean of these secular identities in their baptism and clothed in the righteousness of Christ. It is by the Spirit of God that we are sanctified and justified in Christ’s name and not by our own works.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for washing us clean in our baptism and for Your Spirit that daily conforms us to the image of Christ. May we look to Your word for wisdom in dealing with matters of justice in the church, and, above all, help us to show mercy to those who have sinned against us since You have extended such a great mercy to us in Jesus. Amen.