Topic:The Wrong Way to Right Wrongs
If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!
1 Corinthians 6:1-3
The apostle does not use the word stupid here, but his implication is that these people are very foolish for doing what they are doing. They were obviously engaging in lawsuits, dragging them before the Roman courts, and having all their quarrels and dirty linen washed in public and settled by a secular court. This, the apostle says, is foolish, and he has two reasons for implying this.
First, he implies that it is an act of audacious boldness: “Dare any one of you having a grievance against his brother take it to a law court to settle?” His clear implication is that this is an audacious act; it is an outrageous act; it is a bold, daring thing to do. Paul implies that, of course, by the word he uses — that one who does such is uncaring; he has reached the point where he does not care what anybody thinks or feels and he is acting regardless of the injuries that may be done to others. Paul then suggests, in the two questions he asks, that anybody who does such a thing is really an ignorant person: “Do you not know that the church is going to judge the world, and do not you know that the church is going to judge angels?”
These questions he asks imply a certain degree of knowledge that the Corinthians ought to have had. “Do you not know,” he says, “that the saints will judge the world?” Surely he is referring to those passages both in the Gospels and in the Epistles where we are clearly told that when the Lord returns the saints are going to share the throne of judgment with him. We are to rule and to reign with Christ, entering into judgment with him. We are not told whether we are all assigned a little throne to sit on, and have a certain number of people come to us, or whether we divide up according to the alphabet. We are, however, to enter into the mind and heart of God as he examines the motives and hearts, the thoughts and innermost desires and urges of men. In Chapter 4, remember, Paul said that we are not to judge before the Lord who will examine the motives, the hidden things of the heart. But we are learning how to do that, and that is the point Paul is raising here. He does not mean to put down the systems of justice that were practiced in that day or any day. Paul admired and honored Roman law — he himself called upon it for defense on occasion — but he is saying that human law by its very nature has to deal with trivial, superficial things, with actions, and not with urges and deep, hidden motives.
Then the apostle goes even further and says, “Do you not know that we are to judge angels?” Just think of that! We do not know much about angels. They are beings of a higher order than we are. They are different in their very nature than we, and yet the amazing statement of Scripture is that God is preparing a people who are going to be so capable of delving into the motives, and hidden desires, and urges of all beings, that some day they will sit with him in judging the angels that have fallen. You can see Paul’s argument then: “Is it not rather ridiculous that you people who are going to have to deal in such difficult and hidden and subtle matters as the judgment of the world and of angels cannot even settle these little squabbles among yourselves?” It is almost like having a mathematician who works with those great computers call in a ninth-grader and ask him for help to balance his checkbook. It’s ridiculous, isn’t it?
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Father, teach me to understand more thoroughly the great sweep of Scripture extending even beyond this life where I am now learning things and principles that I will be putting into practice in the life to come.
Are we maximizing the trivial and momentary, while trivializing the essential and eternal events of our lives? Are we viewing God’s equipping and training as preparation for the big picture beyond this time warp?