So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. Matthew 5:23-26 ESV
When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 ESV
America’s Founding Fathers established a government system of laws patterned after ancient Rome and Greece. As you become acquainted with the multitude of federal, state, county and municipal laws, codes and regulations that have proliferated since then, it will boggle your mind. The other aspect of these laws, codes and regulations is, as administrations change, more changes in law occur. Yikes!
This expansion is so out of hand that in 2011, Harvard University professor Harvey Silverglate wrote a book entitled “Three Felonies a Day”. Silverglate’s book hasn’t had the impact he hoped. Organizations or individuals are devising more laws and bringing more criminal lawsuits than ever to settle trivial issues or simply punish someone they don’t like.
As you read the above words of Jesus and Paul, this trend is nothing new.
Have you been tempted to settle a relatively trivial matter with another follower of Jesus by calling your lawyer and dragging the matter into the public square? The above passages urge us to settle those issues quickly and keep them “in the family”.
There are gnarly, deeply serious issues that require the benefit of secular court proceedings so they may not inflict immense damage to the reputation of Christ’s body – but those issues tend to be rare. Jesus and Paul are not talking about murder and criminal sexual misconduct.
There are various reasons for the Church to have elders in any local body. If you have a dispute you can’t work out with your fellow believer, take it to those elders. Settle it before things escalate (to a World War Something status).
Don’t wait and let your problem with your brother develop into a Hatfield–McCoy situation.
There is every indication that consistent failure to settle family disputes results in what today is termed a dysfunctional family. Failure to address issues quickly also results in corrupt practices.
Read the above passages again. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you. If the Spirit reminds you of a problem you have been ignoring that you have with another Christian, ask for guidance in moving toward a settlement without a lawsuit. If you know of an unresolved situation between two other Christians that’s getting ugly, prompt them to bring it before an elder in your church (you may be that elder) – or a wise Christian if the two aren’t attending the same church.