It was into the left margin of my Bible beside I Corinthians 6:7, at some distant time, for I don’t recall making the notation, that I scribbled a single word: interesting. There followed a tiny check mark. I believe I have mentioned that in our Tuesday morning Women’s Bible Study here at DJs, we are studying the subject of forgiveness. Today, quite at length we discussed the earlier referenced scripture, which I’ll write out for you here:
“Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because you go to law with one another. Why do you not rather take wrong? why do you not suffer yourselves to be defrauded?”
Quite a scripture, huh? And it was quite a discussion into which we entered this morning. Actually, I didn’t even refer the ladies to the first part of the verse which deals with going to court with a brother, but we only discussed the latter portion of that passage. The platform was our study today of offenses, and the objective of this particular lesson was to understand that to be godly, progressive women we should avoid being offended. Suffer wrong, suffer mistreatment, Paul here is saying. It is better to do so than to offend your brother.
Such advise is powerful, but certainly there are limitations. Our study today led to the subject of “tough love” with wayward children, and violent marriages and mistreatment that should not be tolerated. But without going to the extreme edges of the subject, I wonder how we do with this scripture. Are we willing to be mistreated, to suffer wrong in order to have a godly, non-offensive spirit? Are we capable of taking a loss without resorting to the courts? Oh, I know a way around this scripture is the claim: “Well, they can’t be my brother or they wouldn’t treat me this way.”
A few months ago, I learned of a young man who did some physical labor for a brother in the church. There was some sort of a misunderstanding and the man decided he didn’t need to pay the laborer for his work. The young man desperately needed the money, but decided to follow God’s principle, and went on to his next job. I may never know the end of that story, but I expect that since these two men are brothers in Christ, the issue will at some point be resolved.
Perhaps, though, the misunderstanding will never be resolved and the debt will never be paid. But if we are to follow Paul’s commandments here, we will allow ourselves to suffer loss so that our brother is not offended.
Offense presents an ugly, enduring head. Proverbs 18:29 speaks to this issue: “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.”
And you? Are you willing to suffer loss, are you willing to be cheated, in order to protect yourself from ill-will and to shield both you and your brother from painful offense?