by Rebecca Livermore
Now, therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? (1 Corinthians 6:7 NKJV).
“You have to stand up for your rights!” That’s what the world, and often even people in the church say, but is it really true, from God’s perspective?
Have you ever considered how standing up for your rights – particularly against another Christian, with unbelievers present -- impacts your witness? The entire sixth chapter of 1Corinthians deals with the issue of a believer taking another believer to court. The bottom line is, it just shouldn’t be done.
Unfortunately, much of what the world sees of the church is not good. They see division and strife. They see all manner of disputes, and they don’t want to have anything to do with such unloving, uncaring people. Can you blame them?
So then, what should you do if there is a dispute between you and another believer? According to the verse above, you should accept the wrong, and let yourself be cheated. Ouch! That hurts, but it is the course of action that is preferable to taking your brother or sister to court. After all, in most cases, you would take your brother to court over a material matter, that, from an eternal perspective, really doesn’t matter.
But what if there really is a serious dispute, that you feel needs to be mediated? 1 Corinthians 6:5 deals with this: “. . . Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren?” This verse instructs us to look to a wise, impartial person in the church, who will judge fairly and help you to settle the matter with another believer, rather than taking the person to court. Matthew 18:15-17 outlines a plan for dealing with offenses in a God-honoring manner.
The bottom line is that the unsaved people in our lives watch how Christians handle disputes. Don’t air your dirty laundry in front of them! Instead, walk out your differences in the God-ordained manner. That, my friends, will be a powerful witness!
Father, we pray that You will help us to deal with conflicts with others in the church in a way that honors and pleases You. We ask You to help us to, in most cases, drop offenses rather than taking them to the next level, but if it’s necessary to seek intervention, help us to follow the plan You laid out in Your Word. We pray that You will also raise up wise men and women in the church who will know how to help others in the church to settle conflict biblically. Amen.
Thought: Is there someone you need to reconcile with? Consider dropping the offense, and letting go of past hurts. Use your journal to write a letter of forgiveness to the person. If you feel so led, also write out the letter and send it to them. (Note: If you don't like to journal, spend some time in prayer on this topic.)
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