Today's passage: I Corinthians 6:1-8
One year, I had a class of lively girls. They were each little personalities on their own, but together, they were non-stop entertainment. On break times, they would play Judge Judy. Each day they would take turns being the judge, while the others pretended to be plaintiffs and defendants bringing their cases before her. I often laughed so hard, it brought me to tears. What is more, their pretend judgements were probably as reasoned as the actual judgements on the show, and their imaginary grievances as petty.
Unfortunately, we have too many Christians who would be willing to take their disputes into a Judge Judy courtroom. Paul tells us this is a mistake. A Christian ought not to take another Christian before an unbeliever to judge the merits of their argument. For one thing, an unbeliever will not judge with Godly wisdom (which I have to say, might be the whole reason Christians would go to an unbelieving judge, because they are not interested in God's wisdom about the matter in the first place). A judge in the world is not going to judge according to God's standard, he will judge according to the laws of the city, county or state. He may or may not hand down a verdict that befits the violation. We cannot argue that we did not like the way he handled the case, because we left the case in his hands and trusted him with the judgement in it. Why not leave it in God's? I know His ways are perfect. I know His judgement is just. I know that He understands every angle of the case, and does not need me to argue why I am right. When we go to the courts, we are basically telling God that we have found something that He has no power to handle. Aren't we? Aren't we saying to God, "My Christian brother took advantage of my gullibility, kindness (whatever it is) and I know You can't change his heart about it, God." It is a complete lack of trust in God's ability to transform people. It is a complete lack of faith in God's perfect knowledge of every situation.
Besides the fact that taking my Christian sister to court is faithlessness on my part, what does it tell an unbelieving world? We are supposed to bring souls to Christ, not push them away. In what way at all will God get glory when we take our issues before the world? I can't think of one way that is possible. I can't think of any good thing that can come of it. I can't imagine any outcome that will put the church or Christians in a good light. I am guessing that if anything, people will make sure they avoid the church that is the source for this strife.
But what if I am the one being accused of wrongdoing? What if I haven't done wrong? What if my sister believes I have defrauded her, but I honestly have not. I am writing this to remind myself, should the time come along. Paul says, "Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?" I should take the hit. If I can at all correct the situation, whether it be paying for something I did not do, donating a service I did not offer, I should appease my sister as best I can to keep it out of the courts. If I am the one who has been cheated, and I have talked to my Christian sister about the situation, but she refuses to make it right, I should cut my losses. But more than either of these, I should pray. Don't pray that the other person will see the light, that God will change their heart, but pray and ask God how He can use me to be a better witness for Him. I am certain I cannot be a better witness sitting in the courtroom, arguing why I am right and she is wrong. All that accomplishes is showing the world how petty Christians can be.
There is another thing. How am I ever to serve in a church with a Christian I took to court? How on earth would that work? It is going to result in one of us worshipping in a different congregation. It is going to result in the church family taking sides with the two disputers, causing a greater rift among the members. This is never a desirable result. This is never something that is pleasing to God. The ripple effect of this never seems to end.
I may leave a courtroom with the verdict in my favor. I may have all the wrongs restored. But in the courtroom of the world, I have lost. I have lost credibility in the God who could have judged for me, and I have lost my testimony as someone who proclaims Christ and His love. Where is my love when all I can see is how I have been defrauded? I think even school-age Judge Judy's could see through that.