If any of you have a dispute with another Christian, how dare he go before heathen judges instead of letting God’s people settle the matter? Don’t you know that God’s people will judge the world? Well, then, if you are to judge the world, aren’t you capable of judging small matters? Do you not know that we will judge the angels? How much more, then, the things of this life! If such matters come up, are you going to take them to be settled by people who have no standing in the church? (verses 1-4)
How can Christians, who know God’s expectation that they will treat each other with love and forgiveness, drag another Christian into a pagan court to try to get ‘justice’?
Paul is not telling his readers anything they do not already know. He reminds them that Christians are to get their act together, live in peace with each other, and, when there are disputes (as there will be when humans meet together), settle them according to the law of love. Parading their disputes before a pagan world which was watching to see just what made these Christians tick was a far cry from what Jesus meant when he told his followers that they were to be his ‘witnesses’.
Satan dragged us kicking and screaming into God’s court, and we found that the only one who could accuse us of sin was, in fact, praying for us. And that the only judge who could condemn us was saying, for Jesus’ sake, ‘Not guilty ‘. All because he loved us. Now we are to show the same love to each other – even in our disputes.
Father, when I am in dispute with my brother or sister, help me sort things out in love. Amen.
by Bob Turnbull, in ‘New Strength for each Day’ (LCA, Openbook, 1998)
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