(1 Corinthians 6:7-8 – ESV)
So now you see where we need good strong churches in order to keep in step with the gospel when we are in disagreement and have disputes with other believers. However you might now say, “well okay, we should settle these things in church not in court, but there aren’t any good churches around, that is why we don’t belong to one, and we couldn’t possibly let it go then”. Well, actually yes, that IS what Paul is saying, to let it go. You see, if you don’t have a church, you are losing out on your opportunity to get this thing solved in a Christian manner, because Paul says if you cannot work it out there, you should just let it go.
Paul is saying that the believer who demands their legal rights in the face of this apostolic counsel always loses the case in God's sight. What becomes visible in that individual is their own selfishness, and also the fact that by demanding their rights in a court of law, they are basically saying that they don't believe God with his power and wisdom can work in the circumstances to accomplish his will. They trust the court system more than God himself. Paul says, “Not only do you not bear it, you return fire, looking to inflict wrong”.
Paul's point is that it's better to lose financially than to lose spiritually. Even when we're clearly in the right legally, we don't always have the spiritual or moral right to insist on it in public court. If we've been wronged or defrauded, we're called to forgiveness, not bitterness. If our fellow believers can't convince the brother to make things right, we're better off to suffer loss and injustice than to bring a lawsuit. Paul is only expanding the word Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:38-40). These hard words are absolutely contrary to the standards of the world that we live in today. When we're deprived wrongfully, we're to cast ourselves on the care of God, who will work for our good and for his glory. We can pray to the Lord who can change hearts and deal with injustice. We must not trust the legal system to do that, because it won't. When we aren’t willing to lose something for the sake of Christ we have already lost.
Have you ever been tested in the area of losing something for Christ’s sake? Sometimes we need to just let it go, to show mercy and so receive mercy from Christ (Matthew 5:7). All who are godly in Christ will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12), but most just try and find every way out of it they can. They don't have to worry about failing a test they don't have to take. Many will never submit to discipline, either from the church, or in some degree to the scriptures themselves. They never give up the right to be the final arbiter, and this is the glaring problem in many so-called Christians. They say one thing, but they actually believe another, and it will eventually show itself as true that they were false. The gospel truth is that submitting to God means that we also have to submit to one another.
However, most people don’t want to submit themselves to God’s people. They want the gospel to get them out of hell, but they are willing to put others through hell for their own self-interest. They haven’t enjoyed the Christian life because they won’t die to themselves. They want everything easy; at every point they want support and praise. Then, when some trouble comes, as it inevitably will, and an ungodly but attractive alternative presents itself, they have no moral center on which to depend. They had never, for the sake of Christ, made a decision that cost them something; and they aren’t about to start now. However, real professions of faith manifest themselves in a principal death to self-interest, in a principal commitment to the cause of Christ and His gospel. What is normal for a true Christian is taking up one's cross and following Jesus; we lose our lives but we gain all the more (John 12:24). Let us consider one another as we consider what Christ means to us (Philippians 2:1-11).