Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? – 1Cor. 6:4 NIV
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Dispute is a disagreement, debate or an argument over an issue. Usually it is the result of differences in views or ideologies with the parties involved not willing to yield ground on their opinion or beliefs. It can be so intense that it degenerates into verbal and sometimes physical assaults if not kept in control. Each party considers the views and positions taken as superior to that of the other and they feel that accepting the argument of the other party equates to settling for less. Most times, all that will be needed to avoid the breakdown that characterizes disputes would be for one of the parties to calmly consider the views of the other with an open mind, and a genuine intention to find a middle ground, or the humility of one to accept the superiority of the argument of the other party, but probably, because of the inability to properly marshal or process the arguments presented, or worse still the thought of not wanting to be regarded as the losing party, it becomes extremely difficult to resolve these disputes as every one digs into their position.
Disputes will normally start very innocuously just as an inferno starts with a little spark, but most times, the main actors are able to see the potential disruption that the dispute can cause if allowed to fester so they take the pro-active step of stopping the argument or promptly finding a common ground where all ideas meet and the dispute is instantly resolved. However, it is not always possible to stop the argument, especially where some level of loss will be suffered by any of the parties that admits wrong as no one really likes to suffer losses. It is in such situations that each party continues the attempt to prove the superiority of their position in the argument. The loss may not always be financial as it may just be a loss of authority or control but whichever it may be, human beings hardly want to accept losses especially when it is considered as cheating and so will do all in their power to reject it.
Because the root of all arguments is mainly in the differences in opinion held by parties involved, it is not unusual to have disputes amongst living beings, man or animal and the church in Corinth was no different. Some members of the Church in Corinth had felt cheated by fellow brothers and so took the decision to seek legal redress in the courts to address the dispute that ensued – 1Cor. 6: 1, 6. This was at a time when the settling of all such disputes were presided over by the Romans or their representatives using Roman laws. The Apostle Paul found this action by the aggrieved Christian unacceptable informing such that by acting in that manner, they had brought shame on themselves – 1Cor. 6:5. He wondered, as revealed in the scripture that is the foundation of today’s Devotional, why they had to take their disputes to people whose life style was scorned by the Church, when they could have resolved such issues amongst themselves. He reminded them that, as born again Christians, they were the ones that were going to be saddled with the responsibility of judging the angels and questioned how they expected to play such role efficiently if they could not arbitrate successfully on disagreements amongst themselves – 1Cor. 6:2-4.
He rebuked the aggrieved party who sought redress before the non-Christian, asking why such could not allow to be cheated rather than take the shameful decision to take arbitration before people whom the church scorned, and making it clear to such a brother that no matter what judgement is received at such places, such was already completely defeated – 1Cor. 6:7. It would have been better for such to accept the wrong or the cheating, if it cannot be resolved by fellow brethren, as a sacrifice for inheriting the kingdom of heaven rather than go to seek redress in roman courts.
He also had a comment for the brother or sister that chooses to cheat a fellow brother, letting such know that such act of wrongdoing has same rating with acts of sexually immorality, idolatery, adultery, lesbianism and sodomy, stealing and greed, drunkeness, slanderering or swindling, all of which will stop those people who are involved from inheriting the kingdom of heaven – 1Cor. 6:9-10. What a big price to pay for what may be considered a misdemeanor, but which unfortunately is not seen as such by Jehovah.
Christians need to be very careful how they allow unmanaged ego to make complete nonsense of all hopes and expectations of spending eternity in the kingdom of heaven. All the devil is aiming for is to ensure that the efforts of the Christian to avoid that destination in Hell comes to nothing and so the Christian must be alert not to allow any form of desire to seek redress over an obvious act of cheating by a fellow brother, become the reason for not inheriting heaven (2Cor. 2:11), especially when the redress obtained will not be able to compensate for the greater loss of inheriting heaven. Likewise, Christians should also be aware that, the simple act of cheating a brother is sufficient to lose access to the kingdom of heaven. Yes it may seem insignificant to you or could even be your own way of demonstrating superiority but when weighed along side the loss of the opportunity to inherit the kingdom of heaven, it will definitely not be worth the psychological advantage that is obtained.
Avoid cheating a fellow brother just as it is important for the Christian to accept all acts of cheating by a fellow brother as a sacrifice made in order to inherit heaven. That remains the ultimate goal of the Christian and no sacrifice should be too great to make in order to achieve such objectives. May God give us all the spirit of forbearance with one another in Jesus name. Amen.