back to FAQs | Home Page
|Kelly from Oklahoma asks. . .|
Is it ever okay to file suit against someone that has wronged you?
Usually, questions such as this arise because of what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:1-7.
1 Corinthians 6:1-7:
In this letter to the Corinthians, Paul addresses problems of strife, envy, and division which had entered the church. Christians were arguing over petty issues and choosing sides against one another. In fact, the problem became so prevalent that believers were going to pagan courts to settle their issues with other believers. In this section of scripture, Paul is exhorting believers to wake up and see a reality greater than their own petty grievances. He was concerned that their Christian witness was being undermined by the practice of handling personal and church disputes among Christians before heathen courts. Paul knew their behavior was indeed undermining to the Christian witness because it, in fact, denied Christ’s teaching.
How could the church have a strong influence for Christ in Corinth when their members were arguing and wrangling in front of the very people before whom they sought to demonstrate the love and power of Christ? Paul stated strongly, “How dare you do this!”
Even the Jews held to the tradition of refusing to take their legal issues before Gentile courts, but would only allow their own Jewish leaders to be arbitrators. The point is that the people of God should and do have more light than unbelievers. Jesus compared believers to salt and light because the Word of God and the Holy Spirit—the mind of God and the power of God—are at our disposal. It makes no sense for believers to turn to those in darkness to settle their issues.
Believers Have the Mind of Christ
All born again Christians have the mind of Christ. What does this mean? Because the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, indwells our spirit, He will reveal and make known to us the wisdom of God. Paul refers to this in 1 Corinthians 6:4 stating, “…set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.” In a sarcastic way, Paul was indicating that even the least member of the body of Christ has more light and ability to hear from God on the things of this life than the wisest unbeliever who is a judge. Believers are destined to rule and reign with Christ in ages to come. We will actually judge angels and help judge and rule over the earth. How will we do this? We will rule according to the wisdom of God within us. But even before that day, God’s wisdom available to guide and direct us in our daily lives.
The point Paul is making is that Christians should do their utmost to settle their disagreements among themselves with help and wisdom from God.
In this passage, Jesus explains what should be done in cases of dispute between Christians. If someone has wronged you, you should go directly to that person to attempt to settle the dispute. If nothing is resolved, you should bring one or two Christian witnesses, if possible, who were involved in the situation or have firsthand knowledge of the matter. If the issue is still unresolved, it should be reported to leadership in the church and the church leadership should address the dispute between the two individuals. If the dispute is still unresolved, and the individual in the wrong refuses to make things right, that individual is to be treated as a heathen or a publican. What does this mean? It means, since that person has refused to submit to the authority of church leadership, the matter should be handed over for God to judge.
Jesus and the Apostle Paul instructed us not to handle our problems on our own. Often we have supernatural problems that need supernatural answers. God wants to be involved in our lives. He has the wisdom and power to provide, protect, and defend you no matter what the difficulty, challenge or conflict. In some cases, it is simply better to let something drop—even if it seems we are being defrauded—and just hand the case over to God and let Him repay. If you are stolen from and defrauded, God can and will make up for it and give you much more than what was taken, if you trust Him.
Now, let’s talk about the matter of it ever being wrong to go to court. I have discussed the issue of two believers going to court. What about a problem a believer has with an unbeliever? How about a dispute with a company or organization, such as an insurance company? What about child custody issues? There are no strict guidelines in the New Testament on these issues. It is clear that two believers should be able to work through their problems with the help of other Christians, church leadership, and God’s wisdom. Dealing with those who are unbelievers is not as easy because they often are hardened to God and do not walk in the light. In some cases, if you have done everything you can do to settle a dispute and it is still unresolved, it might be best to go to court to settle the issue.
In cases where another person’s welfare is at stake, such as in the case of child custody issues, often there is no other recourse than the court system. If all has been done to settle the matter and it remains unresolved, then it might be best to settle the issue in court. The guiding principle of scripture is that it is the responsibility of believers to pursue peace with others.
But after serious prayer and seeking God’s wisdom, you may find it necessary to take your case to court and believe for God to work through lawyers and judges so justice is served.
In conclusion, there may be times when it is necessary to settle disputes in court, but always let the principles of your Christian witness, godly love, divine wisdom and power guide your decisions in these matters.
Copyright 2009 by Bob Yandian Ministries.
Reproduction of this material in whole or part in any format without written permission is prohibited. All Rights Reserved.