In chapter six these immature people were taking each other to court. Paul tells them that this only hurts the church’s reputation in the world. “What?” he says. “Don’t you have any one wise enough to help you settle your disputes? You are doing harm to the church and ought to be willing to suffer wrong instead of making God’s kingdom look bad” (chapter 6, more or less).
I don’t think that only applies to legal matters. This was recorded for us, and if we are as smart as we think we are, we ought to be able to apply it in all sorts of situations. The problem is, we are Americans, and proud of it. We have rights! And we often insist on those rights, regardless of how it might make others view the body of which we claim to be a part.
And then there are the situations that really have nothing to do with “rights,” just convenience or “feelings.” I love the insurance commercial that says, “The drivers on the road are people. So treat them like they are in your home, not in your way.” I wonder if the ad man who came up with that is a Christian. He sounds more like one than some I know who are.
So the next time the person ahead of you in the check-out line takes a long time writing a check, or when the person in the car ahead of you is not as brave as you are about making that left turn across traffic, “take wrong” and “be defrauded” of a few minutes in your day instead of letting him know how much he exasperates you.
What if either of those people walk into services Sunday morning, looking for the truth of God’s Word and recognizes you? Exactly how has your “looking out for your rights” affected their hearts? Do you think they are likely to be more or less receptive to the gospel?
What if, at a family gathering or a church potluck someone says something that you find insulting? “Take wrong” or “be defrauded” of your feelings for the sake of the others there, including children whose fun might be ruined when you cause a scene and walk off in a huff, or a visitor someone has brought to the potluck who might now have a bad opinion of the church. In all these cases, just like little children, we often see and care only how things affect us, and not how they will affect others.
If we cannot yield the right of way when it only affects our convenience, what makes us think we can when it is a matter of legal rights? If we cannot sacrifice a few precious feelings, we have already failed the test of whether we would sacrifice our lives. He who is faithful in little is faithful in much; he who is unfaithful in little, is unfaithful in much, Luke 16:10.
It takes maturity to yield, especially when you are in the right, especially when the other person is not looking out for your good, especially when you have to suffer wrong, or even just inconvenience, to do so. It also takes maturity to remember this in the heat of the moment. Would Paul call us a bunch of big babies, too?
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. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves [by this behavior] wrong and defraud—even your own brothers, 1 Cor 6:5-8.