Do you like to be mistreated? Didn’t think so. Do we like it when someone “gets the best of us”? Nope. We don’t ever want to be cheated. We don’t want to be lied about. Being slandered isn’t too much fun either. Sometimes we’re hated. Sometimes people are ugly to us either in actions or in words. So what do we do? There are two ways to react: my way or God’s way. You and I both know that doing anything our own way instead of God’s way just gets us into big trouble. So that takes us to God’s way. Let’s pursue that.
Paul teaches us a strong lesson in 1 Corinthians 6. Now in the context Paul is talking about Christians taking each other to court, but the message therein is a very applicable one for us in any contrary situation. Read what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:1-7a:
“When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you.”
In short, Paul tells them that it’s bad enough they are fighting with one another but even worse they’re not even settling it among themselves and getting help from other Christians. They have “grievances” against each other which he calls “trivial.” Paul said it was shameful that they were having such situations and weren’t using wisdom and love to figure it out. Paul said the very fact that they had lawsuits against each other was a defeat for them. They had already lost. Lost the love. Lost the forgiveness. Lost the humility. So what would Paul have them do to keep those situations from happening or at least not escalating so much? He gives the answer in 1 Corinthians 6:7b:
“Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?”
Did you catch what he said? That’s huge. It reminds me of what we often say in these kinds of situations: Who’s going to be the bigger/better man? Who’s going to step up and be the person who is humble and willing enough to be wronged in order to bring peace? That’s what Paul is saying. There are going to be times that we are wronged, cheated, and hurt. But our aim needs to be peace and not retaliation or bitterness. We have to strive for peace. Seek what makes for peace. It depends on self. Paul is saying that being at peace with each other is more important than your own pride, feelings, or possessions. We sometimes have to pay a big price in an effort to bring peace. But this is what God expects of us. God wants to see what we’re going to do. He wants to see if we’re going to strive for love and peace. What are we willing to do? What are you going to do to keep your life from fighting and bitterness even in the face of unjust situations? That’s the big question for us all.
If ever we get to feeling like it’s not fair to humble ourselves to the point of suffering loss and being defrauded, then go sit down for a while at the feet of Jesus on the cross. When you feel like being mistreated is too big a price to pay to keep the peace, go walk in Jesus’ shoes as He was spat on, humiliated, beaten, scourged, hated, and mistreated in which He paid the price for our peace. There’s our own fleshly way of handling hurtful situations. There’s God’s way that He wants us to handle these situations. Which are we going to choose? Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? Why not rather focus on God? Why not rather love as God has loved us? Why not seek peace and pursue it? Life is so much better for us when we do it God’s way. God’s way works. Do it on purpose.