Dirty Laundry (1 Cor 6:4-8)

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? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.” (1 Corinthians 6:5–8, AV)

There is an expression that people often use, “airing dirty laundry.” It seems the expression “dirty laundry” was first used in this context in 1967. According to Merriam Webster’s the phrase refers to private matters whose public exposure brings distress and embarrassment.

In the previous devotion, we looked at this issue of professing Christians in the church at Corinth who were taking their fellow believers to a civil court. There were several problems with this, one of which was that they were seeking unbelievers to judge of a problem between two believers. As mentioned, believers should have the wisdom to settle such disputes between one another better than those outside the body of faith. The reason is that believers have the word of God, which tells believer how to handle such things and the Holy Spirit to guide them in the truth. The unbelieving world has neither of these.

This leads us to another huge issue, that is of airing the “dirty laundry” to an unsaved world. This airing of the “dirty laundry” is seen in two ways when believers take one another to court. First, this exposes the basic problem, that one person feels abused or defrauded by another in the church. This is bad enough and yet there is another aspect of this. Going to a civil court also demonstrates that the two believers cannot resolve their issues in a harmonious fashion. It paints a picture of pride, selfishness, intolerance, and a lack of forgiveness. If we read and understand the Scriptures, these things should never characterize a Christian fellowship and believers in Jesus Christ.

The core issue as pointed out in John MacArthur’s commentary on this passage, is that of spiritual defeat. Believers who cannot settle their differences according to the demands of Scripture and must take these issues to unbelievers have already failed and been spiritually defeated.

Paul goes on to exhort the believers in Corinth that it would be better for them to accept the wrong, accept the suffering, and accept being defrauded than to go to court. Why is this? It is because to turn the other cheek, to forgive as God has forgiven, to be patient and forbearing are clearly delineated as appropriate actions of the believer in Scripture. This is the higher ground and it is better to function by Scriptures and have spiritual victory than to have victory in a civil court and be defeated spiritually.

Let me just say this. The Lord knows who is right and who is wrong in every situation. He knows who has taken the high ground of obedience to God’s word and who has not. He knows who has defrauded and who has not defrauded. If the situation cannot be resolved in the church, then those in the church must take the moral high ground, be obedient to the precepts of Scripture, and trust the Lord. It is better to win the heavenly battle than gain in the earthly realm.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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