Settling Disputes Within the Church

Today’s Passages – 1Corinthians 6 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 1 – 5; Proverbs 1)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Joshua 1:8

Read the “1201 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Stumblingblocks“, “Property of Jesus

“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?” (1 Corinthians 6:7)

One of the many problems that Apostle Paul was dealing with in his correspondence with the Church in Corinth was the problem of disputes between the brethren. Apparently, conflicts from within the church body were being brought before the secular courts for resolution. Paul uses some pretty strong language rebuking them for resorting to such measures in order to settle their disagreements, and he even uses a little sarcasm in order to drive his point home. However, we can glean some important principles from this problem at Corinth that will help us in our dealings with fellow believers today.

1. Never sue another believer. Personally, I have never sued anybody, Christian or not; but, I will not go beyond what the text is clearly teaching here. In Corinth, Paul was dealing with individuals from within the same church. Believers need to be very careful when dealing with each other, carefully considering all possible end results of their transactions. When we enter into an agreement with somebody, we seldom think about anything ever going wrong, but often that is not the case. We need to be able to resolve our disputes among ourselves.

2. Be willing to let it go. You may not be able to do this in every case, but if it is at all possible, be willing to forgive (and forget) the damage that was caused you by the offending brother. After all, isn’t that what Jesus did, and is still doing, for us.

3.  Follow the procedure outlined in Matthew 18:15 – 17

“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)

According to Jesus’ instruction in Matthew, the offended brother should first go to the offending party and try to work out the disagreement between them. If that doesn’t work, then he is to bring in another person or possibly two to help bring about resolution. If this fails, then the dispute is to be brought before the church for a final decision. The church was the last “court of appeals” for any case.

4.  Be a peacemaker yourself.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “blessed are the peacemakers”. Every church needs to have a few Sprit-filled, impartial people who could sit down with two disagreeing parties and help them come to a mutual agreement.

As long as there are Christians who possess “a flesh” there are at times going to be disagreements within our churches. God prepares us to deal with these disputes in a Christlike way without airing them out before the unsaved world. I think that point two above is the most important instruction out of the four. There are going to be many times in life where we should be willing to give in and just let God deal with the situation. If it is a financial dispute, understand that all money belongs to God and He is well able to replace whatever amount you lost.


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