Summary: Concern for Christ is more important than our concerns.
Title: Airing Dirty Laundry
Text: 1 Cor. 6:1-11
Truth: Concern for Christ is more important than our concerns.
Aim: To make Christ’s concern more important.
Life ?: What will be my response when Christ’s concern is most important?
When I was twelve or thirteen I worked at a motel cleaning the grounds. One of my jobs was cleaning the swimming pool in the morning. I used a pool broom with a long handle to push the dirt on the bottom of the pool halfway across. I’d do the same on the other side. Then I’d angle the broom to push the dirt into the drain.
One morning while I was cleaning the pool, a family came into the pool area. They were in a big argument. Both parents and kids were loudly making their point. I wasn’t eavesdropping on the conversation because you couldn’t help but hear. I remember turning to look at them as they argued. The problem was I didn’t pay attention to my work and I pushed the broom out to far. I lost my balance. There was no recovery. Fully clothed, I fell into the pool. When I surfaced, the family that was airing their dirty laundry had a good laugh at my mistake.
The bickering and fighting of the church members at Corinth had become public, and Paul was not happy with the way they chose to resolve their disputes. He is shocked that they were actually suing one another in civil court. What most concerned Paul was the testimony the church at Corinth was conveying to the community about Jesus Christ. They witnessed that Jesus Christ changes lives, yet when they had disputes they responded to one another like the unsaved world. This is the teaching that underlines Paul’s admonition about Christians taking one another to court. Concern for Christ’s reputation is more important than our rights.
What’s our response when Christ’s reputation is more important than our rights?
I. RESOLVE THE PROBLEM (I COR. 6:1-5)
Paul concluded chapter five by saying we are not to judge those outside the church but we are to judge those inside the church. In light of that, don’t go outside the church to ask them to decide matters that should be resolved between believers. The word “ungodly” simply means someone that doesn’t know Jesus Christ as Savior. He is not a Christian. Why would you ask someone how a Christian is to respond in a dispute when he doesn’t know anything about Christ?
Paul asks the church a series of questions that reveal the theological grounds for not taking their disputes to the ungodly. He says that in the future they are going to be a part of the glory of Christ when He judges the world and spiritual beings like the angels. In some way Christians will participate in Christ’s judgment of the drama of history. If that is our future, can’t we settle these “trivial matters?” The word “trivial” is our word micro.
He exposes the foolishness and immaturity of this church with biting sarcasm in v. 5. They’ve boasted about how wise they were. Yet they have no one wise enough in the church to make a good decision on these trivial matters?
Several years ago I was asked to be a part of a three-man mediation board to hear a dispute between two Christian men. One felt the other owed him money. The other contended the agreement for the office space was free of charge. I don’t remember any details beyond that other than the office owner believed the fair decision was for him to be paid. I do remember our decision. We requested the man receiving the free office space pay 10% of what the first man was asking. I remember that because the office owner said to his lawyer that we preachers really think along the lines of a tithe!
Don’t apply this text to beyond its scope. We’re talking about trivial matters. Paul respected the government and used its judicial system to his advantage. We see this in his missionary journeys in Acts and his instruction in Romans 13. Basically, the church deals with sins, the civil court deals with crimes. For example, when a case of child abuse is reported to a staff member we are required by law to report it. The Roman Catholic Church’s reputation and treasury has been greatly damaged because they did not report criminal behavior on the part of some of their priests. We don’t protect pedophiles in this church. We protect society.
This doesn’t prevent Christians from suing nonChristians. If you contract with a roofer to replace your roof and he takes the money and runs, use the courts to get your roof fixed or get your money back. But as Christians we should pursue other means and make a lawsuit the last resort.