Quarter’s Theme: ORDERLINESS IN THE CHURCH
Unit 1 – Maintaining Unity In The Church (Lessons 1-4)
LESSON 4 29/3/2015
BIBLE WAYS OF SETTLING DISPUTES
Suggested Hymns: G.H.B. 323, 340
Devotional Reading:Matt. 5:21-26,38-42
Topic For Adults
BE A “WISE-FOOL”
Topic For Youths
LEAVE IT FOR GOD
Topic For Intermediates
PURSUE PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE
1 COR. 6:1-11; MATT. 18:15-17
Memory Verse: Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? (1 Cor. 6:1) NKJV
DAILY DEVOTIONAL READING
Settle With Your Brother
God doesn’t want any friction in the relationship of His children, hence He stipulates various steps that should be taken to resolve whatever crises that may ensue among His people. God knows that some people may not be aware of their wrong, hence He instructs the person wronged to initiate the process of reconciliation by telling the former his fault. If the two parties are real children of God, the matter will automatically be settled at this stage. But if one of the parties is heady and not thoroughly broken down by God, the two other steps may come into play. However, God’s concern is for all disputes among brethren to be resolved within the family i.e. the church. Therefore, don’t hold anybody in your heart.
Point of Emphasis: If you are offended, tell the offender his fault.
Prayer Point: Help me, Lord, to be able to follow God’s pattern of settling disputes in the church.
As a body of Christ consisting of human beings who are still in the flesh, there is no
way some people will not offend one another. The offence may be so grievous that may warrant the intervention of the third party for the dispute to be settled. This week’s lesson examines the appropriate steps that believers should take in settling disputes among themselves in contrast to the ways of unbelievers.
NOTES ON THE LESSON
(1) DON’T TAKE YOUR BRETHREN TO LAW COURT (1 COR. 6:1-6)
The Corinthian church, probably as a result of the division among them, could not trust themselves to handle matters of litigation, as one party would not submit to the decision of another. They were obliged to carry their contentions before heathen magistrates. But Paul strongly reprimanded them. Paul was surprised when he heard this about the Corinthian church, and that is why he said “Dare any of you” (v. 1). He raised the question why they need to take matters of litigation they may have against another brother to a law court before gentile judges? Why is it that they don’t take their matter before the saints to settle? In essence, Paul is indirectly saying that all matters of litigation that may arise among brethren must be settled either by the brethren, the church or the Christian arbitrator or committee that the church might have set up for that purpose, and never to be taken to the unbelieving judges.
Paul gave the people the reason why they should be able to judge and settle every matter that pertains to this life (v. 3). Firstly, they are going to join Jesus to judge the unbelieving world at the end of age (v.2). Secondly, they are going to judge the fallen angels during the time of the final judgment (v. 3). If the saints will partake in this great judgment in the world to come, then they should be able to handle any matter that may ensue in this world, no matter how weighty. In fact, the Bible calls all issues of this world “smallest matters” (v. 2). If, therefore, believers could not settle matters among themselves unless they take it before unrighteous judges, that are going to be judged by them at the end of age, then it is a shame on the saints.
Paul further raised a question, “is it that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? (v. 5) When wise people are being looked for, it is in the church they could be found because Jesus, the wisdom of God, is their Saviour. Therefore, there must be many wise, intelligent and prudent Christians that brethren may have confidence in, and refer their cases to and who will settle the matter amicably without bias and in the fear of God.
(2) ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE CHEATED (1 COR. 6:7-11)
Paul did not hide his feeling and correct assessment of the issue of going to law court among the Corinthian brethrens. He called it utter fault. He told the people point blank that it is wrong and not acceptable by God. Irrespective of whatever might be the cause of going to law court, it is wrong in God’s assessment. Someone may ask, what if it is the unbeliever that charges a Christian to court. This is a different ball game. Such Christian needs to go and defend himself, but it is wrong and not pleasing to God for a Christian to take another Christian to court for whatever matter.
Paul went ahead and gave advice of what mature Christians can do to avert going to law court. First, they must accept the wrong. This means, you may be the one that is offended, whose rights have been denied, but for the sake of not bringing dishonor to your Christian faith and to the name of Christ, you can suffer any personal and private injustice. People may say that you are a fool, but accept it with joy for Christ’s sake. That is better than to dishonor the cause of Christ. Second, similar to the first, Paul said believers that are wronged should allow themselves to be cheated (v. 7). They should receive injury or suffer the loss of property if need be, just with the sole aim of maintaining peace in the body of Christ. Submit to any kind of injustice than carry the case against a Christian brother before a heathen tribunal. Some may say this is cowardice. It is not, you only want the body of Christ to remain healthy and united.
This, though difficult as it may appear, is possible if only you will cast your mind back and remember how you have defrauded or cheated others while you were still in the world. If Christ has now saved and forgiven you your sins and accepted you as His son and daughter, it is not too much on your part if you allow yourself to be cheated by others so as to honor God’s name in your life (vv. 8-11)
(3) BIBLICAL STEPS TO RECONCILIATION (MATT. 18:15-17)
In the case of a brother in the Lord injuring or offending another brother, either by word or conduct, the Bible gives three basic steps that the offended must take in order to bring about reconciliation. The first step is for the offended to call the attention of the offender to the issue. If they are able to nip it in the bud at this stage, it is better. However, if the offender will not agree to his fault, the second step is to take one or two other mature brethrens, who are wise, intelligent, and respectable to the offender with the aim of settling the dispute.
If the first two steps to reconciliation are not fruitful, the third step is to report the matter to the highest authority of the church, who will also look into the matter and do everything possible to resolve the dispute. However, if after all these efforts, the “offender,” still does not agree to the terms of settlement, instead of taking him to the law court in order to seek redress, the Bible enjoins that you consider such “offending brother” as an heathen who has not known Christ. There is no child of God, with the Spirit of God in him or her that will not obey his or her church leaders who are being directed and controlled by the same Holy Spirit that is in him or her.
Have you been defrauded by any fellow brethren and they refuse to pay you back while some are still threatening to deal with you? Are you contemplating taking the matter to the court of law for you to get your right? Know that God hates this step. So stop it and use the biblically laid down steps to seek redress and to settle the matter.
(1) Who is Paul referring to as “unrighteous” and “heathen” in the lesson?
(2) How are believers going to judge the world and angels in the final judgment?
(3) What is Paul’s verdict on a brother charging another brother to a law court?
(4) How can a Christian accept wrong and be cheated, and why?
(5) Mention the biblical steps to reconciliation.
REGLE AVEC TON FRERE
MATTHIEU 18 :15-17
Dieu ne veut pas de friction dans les relations de ses enfants, d’où il stipule les divers pas qui doivent être pris pour résoudre toute crise qui pourrait en découler parmi son peuple. Dieu sait que certains pourraient ne pas se rendre compte de leur tort, d’où il (Dieu) instruit la personne lésée d’initier le processus de réconciliation en disant à l’autre sa faute. Si les deux parties sont de véritables enfants de Dieu, l’affaire sera automatiquement réglée à cette étape. Mais si l’une des parties reste entêtée et n’est pas complètement brisée par Dieu, les deux autres pas pourraient entrer en jeu. Cependant, la préoccupation de Dieu est pour que tous les différends parmi les frères soient résolus au sein de la famille, c’est-à-dire l’église. N’en veux donc à personne.
Point essentiel : Au cas où tu es offensé, dis à l’offenseur sa faute.
Axe de prière : Aide-moi Seigneur à être capable de suivre le modèle de Dieu dans la résolution des différends dans l’église.