“Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?” (1 Corinthians 6:1–5, AV)
In 1987, having years of experience in printing press design, I went to work as a plant engineer for Union Camp in Savannah Georgia. The reason I went there was primarily to get a poorly designed printing press running correctly. In the first year, I laid out a plan to repair the equipment and modify the components that were improperly designed in the first place. At the end of that year, we were well underway to getting the printing press running correctly and in year two we were done with the project.
After moving to the position of plant manager, we began looking for a second machine. We ended up going back to the manufacturer of the first machine because of compatibility. However, we gave them a complete list of the things we wanted them to do differently to include the actual redesigns needed to make the machine work correctly.
They looked at the redesigns and then argued with us about them. They were convinced that they knew better, even though they knew that Union Camp was never happy with the performance of their equipment until we made the modifications. In other words, they felt that they were the best judges of what needed to happen with the machine. Well, we told them that if they did not incorporate our redesigns that we were not purchasing the machine. The moral of the story is this. People with superior capabilities are the best to judge things in their area of expertise.
In this section of Paul’s letter, he dealt with a problem in the church of parishioners taking other parishioners to court over various problems that they had with one another. Paul tells them that this action of taking a brother in Christ to a civil court is wrong and that they should handle these things internally. There are several issues with this. Foremost is why any brother in the Lord would mistreat another in the faith. Another has to do with the testimony of the believer. In this passage, Paul indicated that the church was the best place to deal with such an issue.
Paul pointed out to the church that “the saints shall judge the world” and that “we shall judge angels.” His point was that if it were the believers who would judge these great things, why were they not handling the smaller conflicts that occurred between two parishioners in the same congregation. He asked the question, “Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?”
Unfortunately, it often happens that a dispute will arise between two believers that they cannot settle and one will sue the other. While there are some things that must be handled in the civil arena, such as issues of child abuse, divorce, etc., conflicts between one parishioner and another should be handled between them in the church, not outside. The point is that the church is to be a community of people who love one another. Those who love one another will work to solve their problems in a way that glorifies God. Thus, there shall be no reason for one brother to sue another in a civil proceeding.