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“Do not go hastily to court; for what will you do in the end, when your neighbor has put you to shame?”—Proverbs 25:8 (NKJV)
Up front, we need to be clear about something. God has ordained a specific purpose and place for the civil courts. The laws of our land and the authorities who enforce them are put there by God in order to keep order. They serve as His safeguard to see that a certain standard of righteousness exists (Romans 13:1–5).
However, there’s a limit to the place these authorities are to occupy, as well. God does not want the court of law to be the first resort for people who find themselves in a dispute. He says, “Do not go hastily to court” in the Proverb above, and elsewhere Jesus gives us this directive: “Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison” (Matthew 5:25 NKJV).
Again, courts are sometimes necessary. But we should avoid them if at all possible . . . especially if a dispute involves other Christians. As those who believe in and follow after the Lord, we’re the ones who should set the example of resolving and settling conflicts. If we belong to the Prince of Peace, then we should also be able to live in peace with our fellow brothers and sisters (1 Corinthians 6:1–11).
The specifics of what it might take to do this are as varied as the number of times Christians have had conflicts with each another. But the overarching principle is essentially the same: If there’s a dispute between believers, God wants them to pursue peace and to seek settlement with each other.
It might be tempting to compartmentalize this particular aspect of life. I’ll listen to God when it comes to things like heaven and hell. But I feel like this is really an area that should be off-limits from the spiritual life.
Not so! This aspect of our lives is as spiritual as anything else. Moreover, if Jesus addressed this in His Sermon on the Mount then it’s an important part of the Christian life. May we take heed and apply it as we would with anything else Christ commands.
DIG: What purpose does the court of law have in God’s plans?
DISCOVER: How does God want His people to resolve their conflicts? Hint: Romans 12:18.
DISPLAY: How does your pattern of dealing with conflict compare with the Scriptures above? Spend some time evaluating your conflict resolution methods and compare it to what the Bible says.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.