Handling Legal Disputes Between Christians
August 16, 2016
“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” Matthew 18:15-17
The Bible makes it clear that it is never right to file a lawsuit against a brother or sister in Christ. There is a biblical protocol to follow when someone has wronged you: First, go to the person and try to make it right. If that doesn’t work, bring one or two witnesses to help document the conversation. If all else fails, the guilty party may need to be expelled from the church.
“Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.” 1 Corinthians 6: 1-8
“Going to law” in this passage is not talking about reporting crimes such as rape, murder, or child molestation. God put the death penalty on those crimes in the Old Testament, and we should never sweep something like that under the rug. Crimes of that nature should absolutely be reported to the authorities. What the scripture is referring to is suing another believer for financial reasons.
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.” Matthew 5:38-40
When you truly love your neighbor, you will loosen your grip on the things of this world. If you loan something to someone, make sure you can afford to kiss it goodbye. I’m not saying it’s right to borrow something and not give it back. The Bible makes it clear that people should pay what they owe.
“The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.” Psalm 37:21
That said, we should never sue other believers. Sometimes another Christian will wrong you financially, but if the church doesn’t give you justice, then too bad for you. Two wrongs do not make a right. It is wrong to sue your brother in Christ and it is wrong to sue a church, which is a body of believers.
Here is a sermon to go with this article.
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