What does God think about taking someone to court? We’re going to talk a little bit about going to court, because we’re in a section of the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew, Chapter 5, where Jesus mentions something about going to court.
And it’s set within the context of a passage of about five or so verses there, in Matthew five. I’d say Matthew five versus 21 all the way down verse number 26, where the subject is human relationships.
It starts off by Jesus mentioning the sin of murder, of course, described in Pharisees would preach against murder, but they were murderers at heart. They murdered Jesus, and they spoke murderous words. And I’ve already talking at great lengths already about how God doesn’t want anybody involved in any of the things that can ultimately lead to physical murder, like anger, and hatred.
Now, if we find ourselves angry, we need to stop and recognize that we’re in God’s court. And we need to proceed with great caution and shift into love, rather than hatred and think about how we can reconcile and restore a relationship rather than build a wall of hatred against another person.
So Jesus has already told His followers what to do if they’re presenting an offering at the altar there, which is a high religious duty, back in the days of the old covenant, but if they remember, at that point in time, that their brother has something against them, so they’ve got a broken relationship, the Lord says, “Go first, and be reconciled to your brother,” and then, secondarily, then come and present your offers. So the offerings important, but the relationship with your brother, the broken relationship, and restoring that is more important than the religious duty of bringing your sacrifice to the altar, okay.
And then Jesus said something else, abut going to court. Well guess what? God established courts under the Law of Moses. There’s nothing wrong with courts. Courts are wonderful extensions of the rule of God. All authority is from God, and those that exist are established by God, and He established a Court system in Israel, so that justice could be done when injustices had been committed. And so there’s nothing wrong with court, there’s everything right with court. Courts are preventative against people yielding to the temptation to take personal revenge. Something that the Law of Moses forbade, and something that’s still forbidden.
We are not allowed to take our own revenge, and you don’t have to take you own revenge, if you can get some calmer minds involved in some kind of arbitration. That’s why Jesus said, “If your brother sins, go to him, those who receive you, you set up your own little court.” Don’t you? Get one or two others to come with you, and have court. And let them help your brother see and admit his sin. And if your brother doesn’t receive you then, then take him from the church, so that there’s the third [inaudible 00:03:17], a third court scene, as it were. So there’s nothing wrong, and everything right with courts.
They’re designed to right wrongs, and to fix what has been broken, and so forth, because God is a God of justice. So Jesus now talks about going to court, within the context of this whole getting along with others deal. And often times, people take each other to court because of hatred. And they’re hoping to exact revenge and sometimes it works in their favor, sometimes it can work against them.
Okay. Two people go to court, because they both think they’re right, and in the end usually one finds out they’re wrong, because the judge or the jury decides in favor of one or the other.
And so Jesus addresses that. If you’ve gotten upset or angry with a fellow believer, and you have a legitimate reason, you shouldn’t take him to court, Paul said that, don’t you have anybody in the church who could judge and arbitrate in this matter? You’re going to go before the world? Two brothers in Christ are going to go before the world and let them decide? One day we’re going to be judging angels, Paul said, but still you see, that concept of court is wonderful. Isn’t there anyone among you who can decide? Paul’s saying, have a church court case, as it were, but don’t go before the unbelievers.
But Jesus says this, in Matthew 5:25, “Make Friends quickly with your opponent at law while you’re are with him on the way.” So, He’s saying see, we’re always working towards reconciliation, and so it’d be better if you could work it out yourselves, between your opponent at law rather than take the risk of going before a judge and then you facing dire consequences, because you could be wrong in your dispute. Or the judge might not make a righteous decision and then you don’t get justice. So He says, “Make friends quickly with your opponent at law, while you’re with him on the way, so that your opponent not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you’ll be thrown in prison.
And this would seem to be a case of, in human relationships, it’s not that you’re angry at somebody else, if someone else is angry at you, and they’re so upset that they’re taking you to court. So obviously they think they have a legitimate reason.
Well Jesus is saying, don’t wait until court, because you’re being stupid then. Try to work it out, even on your way to the court so that you don’t face consequences that you later regret not trying to work it out. Stubbornness is such an enemy to reconciliation, isn’t it? “I’m not going to do anything until … that gets people into more trouble. And Jesus then warns, and this is connected to verse number 25,” Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you’ve paid the last cent.”
So, you want justice? You like justice? Well, if someone takes you to court and you’re wrong, and they get justice, we all want justice, until it hurts us. Then we want mercy. So, you’re more likely to get mercy with your opponent at law, going to that person before you make it a public deal.
And that’s beautiful wisdom there too, right? Jesus said, “When your brother sins against you, you go to him privately,” because as soon as you start involving other people then the pride factor increases. You’re going to get more humility one-on-one than you are in a public court, or in a church service, for that matter.
Okay, all right. Nice being with you. We’ll continue more with the sermon on Mount in our next Little lesson as Jesus talks abut another place with the scribes and Pharisees are blowing it miserably. God bless you