Friday, July 3, 2009

Devotion - Lawsuits; Right or Wrong?

Good Friday morning everyone. I feel like I am back home in Nova Scotia. There are a couple of seagulls outside my window having a heated conversation. Speaking of heated conversation we are looking at 1 Corinthians 6 this morning.

Most people do not even realize this but Christians are suppose to handle disagreements differently than those outside of the Kingdom. Our countries judicial system is no different than what existed in Paul's day and this is what he said on the matter:

If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers! vv. 1-6

There is a lot to be said about this but let's just stick to the point that we are suppose to handle our disputes among ourselves. Why? Because our lives are based on the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, not upon a book of law. We have our own codes to live by. This is the reason we are a distinct people; we have our own language, and our own law. We are wrong to seek someone else's judgment who is not familiar with our perspective. It also brings shame to the name of Jesus because we are failing to live has he taught us to live.

People will do this, go outside of the Body, in order to win as favourable a judgment as possible. They do this because they are focused on themselves. The motivation is either greed or revenge, neither of which belong to teh Kingdom of God. People who do this just don't get it:

The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers. vv. 7-8

You will be hard pressed to find anyone who will say Amen! to that. Kind of a revolutionary idea? Not really, it is a summary of what Jesus taught. If we cannot understand this then we will have a very difficult time to grow into maturity because the mature have to "take it on the chin" from those who are immature in the faith. We are to work out our disagreements in order not to bring any shame to Jesus. He taught us to love and he taught us that love costs and this is part of the cost; willing to give up what you want for the sake of a brother or sister.

I am living in a fine home because of this attitude. A brother had just bought this home for his family when they Spirit told him to put it up for rent. The morning he put it up the Spirit told me to look. I was the first to call about it and right there and then he said it was mine. He had no place to go but we were confident the Lord would provide and he did. This is the kind of attitude we are to carry into our disputes as well, that we would be willing to give up what we want. Unfortunately many of us are already defeated.

But let us not ignore the warning Paul gives as well about such a wrong attitude and actions:

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. vv. 9-11

Why is Paul writing this? He is telling them that this is what they were saved from, don't go back there. There are many things in us that are left-overs from a former life, the one before the transformation started in us. These are the things we must be willing to let go of. These are the things that must die in us. The foundation of the Kingdom is love, but not just any love; it is the love that Jesus showed us. The foundation of the Kingdom is obedience that arises from a love that would take us to the cross for others. God first, others second. With that there is no room for self because the Father is occupied with us. That is the faith part; do we trust the Father enough to stop worrying about ourselves so that we are free to love others?

Take heed, being a Christian requires more than worship. Although Jesus is always our focus and our reason for everything, how we treat others matters as well. Keep in mind, there is a right way to handle disputes and there is a wrong way. Choose the way that honours Jesus.

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