Are Lawsuits Forbidden? – I Corinthians 6:1-7

by Pastor John Fredericksen

Print This Article

According to “Top Ten Frivolous Lawsuits” posted on the Internet site Legalzoom, in 1991, Richard Harris sued Anheiser Bush for $10,000. He claimed to suffer from emotional distress, with mental and physical injury due to what he viewed was false advertising. He stated that when he drank beer, he did not have any luck with the ladies, as he perceived the ads promised on TV. Harris also did not like that he sometimes got sick after he drank. The case was thrown out of court. We are living in a sue-happy world of frivolous lawsuits. But bringing foolish matters before courts of law is nothing new.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians saying, “Dare any of you, having a matter against another [believer], go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? (I Corinthians 6:1). We are not told exactly what kind of matters these believers were bringing before the courts. Paul puts these into one simple category when he says, “…are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?” (vs. 2) In other words, these believers were suing one another over frivolous issues. It is important for us to understand that Paul was not forbidding these saints any lawsuit over weighty issues, nor is the Lord forbidding believers today the protection of authorities or the legal system when truly important issues are at hand. Romans 13 explains, “the powers that be are ordained of God” (vs. 1) as a deterrent to evildoers (vs. 3) and a protection to the innocent. First Peter 2:13-17 essentially says the same thing. Therefore, if another believer steals your car, threatens your family, or murders a loved one, the Scriptures do not prohibit you from taking every reasonable legal action against them. These are important weighty issues that our governmental authorities are divinely designed to handle. On the other hand, “the smallest of matters” (I Corinthians1:2) are things we ought not to sue another believer over. Instead, we should “rather take the wrong” (vs. 7) so the testimony of Christ is not soiled before the unsaved public and authorities. When the Corinthians were being sue-happy, Paul told them: “…there is utterly a fault among you…I speak to your shame…” (vss. 7, 5). What they should have been doing instead was peacefully setting aside these small matters by simply suffering the wrong without legal action.

If you ever consider a lawsuit against another believer, be certain it is over a truly weighty issue. Otherwise, let the issue be judged at the Bema Seat.

Free Mail Subscription

Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."