Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wise Counsel

1 Corinthians 6:1-11

"When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 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 wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God"

I read this passage for weeks, thinking and thinking about what I wanted to say on it, and I came back to one work: WISDOM. As saints, we are blessed with salvation throughout the person and work and Jesus Christ. What's more (yes! incredibly there is more) God also grants us the gift of the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians the Spirit is called a deposit. An evidence of the promise from God to keep and purify us until we are with Him in glory. The Spirit is our helper, our guide, our friend, ever present in times of need. And, the Spirit produces fruit in our lives. We can live a life that honors the Lord because He has given us the ability to do so. WISDOM is one of the characteristics of the Spirit within us. Paul tells the church that they will judge the world and angels and are able to judge each other. The WISDOM to do so does not come from their natural understanding (Paul told them already that none of them are inherently wise) but from the presence of the Spirit within them. 

I was considering how the passage applies to my life. I have no need to sue anyone. I don't desire to take any of my friends court. I don't need retribution for wrongs or the need for someone to deliver to me what they owe me.  But often I find myself in need of guidance.  There are so many times that I could use WISDOM on practical matters. Things like how should I respond to my friend? or Jake and I can't decide how to handle this matter in our marriage... or maybe someday it will be how do I discipline my child in this area? 

First and foremost the scriptures makes it clear that we should take these questions to the Lord. Ephesians 6: 18 tells us to "pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests".  We do have the Holy Spirit within us and have the ability to hear from Him on these matters. BUT I believe it is also important to seek the counsel of others. "The way of the fool seems right but a wise man listens to advice" Proverbs 12:15. The question that this passage in 1 Corinthians addresses so clearly is one of where to seek counsel from. As a proud and stubborn woman, I am guilty of going to the first person who I think will agree with me. Believer or not, I just want someone to take my side. But  Paul asks here "Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers?"  There is a body of believers who are also full of the Spirit of God. Could it be that one of them has been granted by the Spirit wisdom I need in any given area of my life? 

My prayer for myself is that I would turn first to the Lord, and then to His people. That would trust the working of the Holy Spirit in the lives of others. They may be able to see clearly where I can not. And may these actions bring about in the body of Christ a unity through His Spirit that will work in this world for our good and His glory.