Is It Okay for Christians to Take People to Court? (Part 1)

A Little Lesson

Read the transcript of this video below.

Jesus said, “do not judge,” so is it okay for Christians to take other people to court?

Picture of judge and gavel in court

Hi, welcome to today’s Little Lesson. Thank you so much for joining me. This is a very special Australia edition of Little Lessons, and that is the beautiful city of Sydney, Australia behind me.

So blessed to be here for a couple of weeks visiting believers and supporters of the Ministry of Heaven’s Family. Speaking in some churches, as well as in some home groups. Spending time with some wonderful, wonderful people of God whom over the last couple of weeks I’ve just grown to love and appreciate so very much.

This morning, I’ve got to tell you, I was blessed to spend about three hours with a brother in Christ who came to the Lord while he was living in Saudi Arabia. Born and raised a devout Muslim, but began to have some questions because his conscience began to speak to him. And he began to listen to it and he began to seek.

And of course, Jesus said, “Seek and you will find.” It doesn’t matter where you are at in the world, God is able to reach anybody. I was just enthralled by his testimony of how the Lord met him there in a country where there virtually are no other Saudi Christians, for the most part. He came to the Lord and he began telling other people about what had happened to him. It landed him in jail, eventually, with a whole group of people who were classified as terrorists. He looked at it as an opportunity to let his light shine, which he did, and eventually was freed from jail, but put under detention for quite a few years there in Saudi Arabia and ultimately, was able to escape with his family.

So we’re hoping that we can partner with him in order to reach more seeking Saudis in Saudi Arabia, because that is, in fact, the heart of Islam, as you probably know.

Well, anyways, it’s great to be here in Australia. It’s great to be sharing with you. One of our Australia friends put us up in this beautiful hotel overlooking the Darling Harbor. We’ve enjoyed the scenery here, but most of all, the fellowship has been just so rich.

All right. So those of you that have been watching for a while, you know that we’re working our way, currently, through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. We just entered into the seventh chapter of Matthew, where Jesus says that, and I’m reading now, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” Some Christians have taken that to mean that you sure would never want to take anyone to court if you are Christian, because in order to take them to court, obviously, you have to pass judgment on anyone you would sue. And you’re hoping that the judge or the jury also passes judgment on that person whom you’ve taken to court, and you hope that their judgment agrees with your judgment and that you get some justice as a result. And so because of that, some believers just decided that you’d never, ever take anyone to court.

I’m hoping to provoke your thinking a little bit on this to consider the context of what we’re reading here in Matthew, chapter seven. Jesus didn’t say these things in a vacuum. Right? He said them within the context of everything he’s been saying prior to that for hundreds and hundreds of years through the law and the prophets and so forth.

We’ve got an entire Bible to help us understand the meaning of these things. It becomes clear that, as we talked about in the last couple of Little Lessons, that Jesus was not telling us to never make a moral appraisal of another person. In fact, in this very sermon, he says, “Don’t cast your pearls before the swine.” Well, you have to make a moral appraisal of people to determine whether or not they’re spiritual swine. Right? Okay. And there are other verses. We’ve talked about all this.

The thing that Jesus is really warning us against is setting a standard that you expect other people to keep when you yourself don’t even keep that same standard. Because that, of course, is hypocrisy. So that’s why he goes onto say, “In the way that you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” And I believe that’s true on the divine and the human level.

When we set a standard, other people expect us to live up to our standards that we set, right, for other people? If we’re pointing the finger at them, we better not be guilty of the very same thing. And of course, God, who knows everything. God, who is pure and holy and true. He’s going to hold us to the same standard that we’re holding others to.

So, like Jesus went on to say, “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye when you got a log in your own eye?” You’re holding them to a higher standard than you’re holding yourself.

So what does he say? Does he say, “Never make a moral appraisal”? No, he says, “Get the log out of your eye, then you’ll see clearly enough to get the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Then it’s okay because you’re living by your own standards.

Now, as we consider whether it’s right or wrong to take someone to court, I think a fundamental question to ask is, “Is there any other information about this in the Bible?” And there sure is, and I could ask you a question I think everybody knows the answer to. Did God or did God not institute a court system, a system of judges whereby Israelites who had controversies could go before them and get justice? Did God do that or did God not do that?

Well, if you read the Law of Moses, you know God did do that. Because God didn’t want anyone taking revenge, because then you have passion involved and it may not be just. So God set up this system, this court system.

It’s my understanding that the court system of Western culture has been patterned quite a bit off of what we find in the Law of Moses. And you go before judges or a group of elders or whatever and they hear the testimonies of witnesses and so forth, and they examine everything carefully. They’re required by the Law of Moses to make sure that they don’t take a bribe and that they don’t show anyone favoritism. They don’t show even favoritism to the poor because they’re poor. They’re required to mete out justice, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth and so forth.

So all these things are contained in the Law of Moses. This is a law that we can say Jesus, Jesus, because he’s God, he’s one with the Father, Jesus gave to the people of Israel. And now, Jesus again is coming to the people of Israel and he’s speaking to them. And so for Jesus to say, “You don’t ever go to court,” well, anyone can then rightly say, “Well, Jesus, are you the Messiah? Are you God? Are you contradicting the Law of Moses? Well, then you’re not the Messiah, you’re not God if you’re telling us we should never go to court.”

And, of course, that’s not what Jesus is saying. Courts are good because it provides a way whereby wrongs can be righted and justice can be done and fair recompenses can be determined and made and the law can be enforced. Okay? These are all good things, and good cultures and good societies have these. And to the degree that they follow biblical principles, there’s a blessing involved, okay.

Now, we’re out of time for today’s Little Lessons, so we’ll have to just pick up right here in our next one. I hope to see you next time as we keep answering this question about Christians taking people to court. God bless you.