What should you do when a disagreement escalates between believers? We realize that we are all sinners, and sin can draw a wedge between people. As Christians, we are not spared from these conflicts. But is legal action advisable between two Christians who clash?
In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul addresses some believers in Corinth who were at odds with one another. The situation had become so hostile that they were going to court. Notice Paul’s dismay when he writes, “[D]o you dare to take it before the ungodly?” (v. 1). Paul was not concerned that the Corinthian judges were unjust, but that believers would sue one another before an unrighteous judge and spectators.
In Corinth, the judge’s seat, known as the bema seat, was in the center of the town square. You can still see some court houses in town centers today. And much like today, lawsuits then were public knowledge. While cable news didn’t cover these trials 24/7, crowds gathered for entertainment, and reputations would be ruined.
It is no wonder Paul was appalled by the idea of Christians suing one another. It goes completely against the gospel message of grace, charity, and forgiveness. Paul reminded the Corinthian believers that they were citizens of another world and kingdom (vv. 2–3).
Paul was not against ever taking legal action. In Acts 22:25 and 25:10– 11, he appealed to the Roman courts for his own rights. Likewise, we are grateful for the legal experts who protect believers today. However, Paul thought it reprehensible for one believer to attack another in court. When possible, Christians should seek to settle disputes themselves according to the values, principles, and truths of Scripture.
>> Don’t let things escalate between you and other believers to the point where legal action is needed. Instead, seek wise godly counsel and pray for God to give you the courage and grace to confront and resolve issues.
Father, in recent conflicts, show us what we did or said wrong so we can ask for forgiveness. We ask You to work also in the people with whom we clashed. As Your children, help us make peace with one another.