Wednesday Word: Defending Rights and Suffering Wrong (1 Corinthians 6:7)

To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?

As Americans, we take our rights pretty seriously. The right to free speech, the right to practice religion, the right to bear arms, the right to get married, the right to life, are all issues that folks fight to defend in our culture. But what about Christians? Where do we land on the topic of defending our rights?

Truth is, it depends. As citizens in this country we should defend certain rights and fight to ensure justice (especially for those who cannot fight for themselves). We should be thankful for the freedoms that we enjoy and do our part in protecting those freedoms for the next generation.

Yet, this is not our only approach to rights as Christians. The followers of Christ must lay down their rights at the cross. As those who follow the One who freely chose to give His life in our place, we must recognize the implications of His sacrifice. If our Savior was willing to suffer unjustly for the sake of others, then we must too. Taking up our crosses means laying down our rights.

This is the heart of the argument that Paul makes against one brother taking another brother to court. Apparently, some in Corinth were not ready to lay down some of their rights. We don’t know the details of the case, or cases, but we do know how Paul felt about them: “To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you.” Nobody wins when Christians take each other to court.

Yet, what are they to do? How are they to handle these grievances between brothers? How are we to respond when we are perhaps wronged by a fellow Christian? Paul’s answer: “Why not suffer wrong? Why not be defrauded?” The hope is that the issue can be resolved in the Church with the help of other brothers (see 6:1-6), but if that fails, then Paul asks: ‘Wouldn’t it just be better to suffer wrong than to go to court and defend your rights?’ Take the hit, swallow the injustice, suffer wrong, be defrauded.

If I am honest (and I don’t want to be), I struggle with such a solution. When I am in those situations with a brother (maybe not in regards to court, but similar situations where I feel my rights have been violated), I want to answer Paul: ‘Suffer wrong? Be defrauded? Why should I suffer wrong, I am in the right on this one! Why can’t they suffer wrong? Why can’t they pay the price? After all, that is justice and God is a God of justice.’ I might not ever voice it, but I have entertained such thoughts.

But in those harsh moments when everything in me tells me to defend my rights, I have to remember the cross. I follow the King who laid down His life for His rebellious people. I serve the Landowner whose Son was murdered when He came to collect the crop He deserved. I worship the Creator who took on flesh, wore a crown of thorns, and died naked on a tree for my sins. Oh, how He suffered wrong for me!

If we are loved by such a Savior (and we are!), then surely we can suffer wrong for the sake of His Bride. Surely we can love the brethren enough to lay down our rights when the need arises. It may seem unAmerican and counter cultural (because it is), but it will be precious to our crucified King. O brother, O sister, may we lay down our rights, take up our crosses, and follow Him.

wm

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