1 Corinthians 6 v 1 - 8

The church at Corinth were pushing the boundaries in more than one respect. There were wealthy converts inevitably, in a city which had such potential for riches, and they were used to getting their way and fighting their battles through the courts. When disputes arose in the fellowship they sought the same mechanism to pursue what they felt was justice. Jews had a traditional way of settling disputes through the synagogue elders, but the Greeks loved to listen to cases of law, it was considered one of the great entertainments. Paul proclaims that to go to law at all, and especially to go to law against a Christian brother or sister, is to fall far below the Christian standard. Plato, long before this, had written that one of the things which defined a good man was that he would always choose to suffer wrong rather than to do wrong. Every Christian has the love of Christ in their heart and likewise, he or she should rather accept the injury on themselves than seek to injure a fellow Christian, no matter how 'right' that might be. To take vengeance is always an unchristian thing to do. The believer orders his or her dealings with others in the spirit of love and that spirit will always insist that he or she live at peace with his or her brothers and sisters and forbid him or her to demean himself or herself by going to law. What does this mean for us today? I must emphasise that this passage concerns those taking others to court because of some dispute or imagined slur or insult. Therefore, it does not preclude events which become police matters and they decide to take it to court. I have been to court for several things which happened to us when we ran the shop, but I forced myself to go through a process of forgiving assailants before the court appearance. I personally would say the same for matters of employment where a Trades Union has recommended a day in tribunal court. Paul himself modelled the principle of standing up for oneself when others are in line to be also victimised. He took imprisonment and whip lashings without a murmur at times-Acts 16 v 22-24-, but at other times he declared himself a Roman citizen, availing himself of the protection it offered, sheltering others too-Acts 16 v 35-40.

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