Today’s Chocolate: Chocolove Almonds and Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate
Today’s Passage: 1 Corinthians 6
So, yesterday I concluded by saying that Paul uses the word “judge” throughout 1 Corinthians 5. And I suppose that’s true, if by “throughout” I meant “once at the beginning of the chapter in verse three, and twice more in the final verses,” which is not “throughout” in any sense of the word. But today’s chapter continues talking about judgment, so it’s fair to say that this middle portion of his letter uses the word “judge” throughout. And since Paul is discussing judgment, we will too. All the Paul!
Paul’s got another problem with the Corinthian church–or, more accurately, the Corinthian church has a problem, and because Paul is personally invested in their spiritual maturation as a church, their problem is his problem too. Paul spells the issue out: “Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?” (6:5-6). Instead of working through their problems within the church with the help of a mediator, they’re suing each other and letting secular courts decide between them. Everyone’s intent on getting his pound of flesh! Paul elaborates: “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren” (6:7-8). They take each other to court for selfish reasons, judging each other and getting Roman judges to judge each other instead of being concerned about justice. Paul says: let the family deal with family matters. Or go the extra mile: be wronged and defrauded, quit insisting on getting an eye for your eye, and take one for the team. Forgive your brothers.
But there’s a broader issue to tackle here, and that’s judgment in general. In the last chapter, Paul told us that he judges the man who has committed adultery with his father’s wife (5:3), and that his readers are to judge those within the church, not outside (5:12). And in this chapter, he says, “Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?” (6:2-3). In essence, Paul says that believers will judge the world and the angels, so they ought at least to be competent to judge matters between themselves.
And here’s the issue: isn’t this contrary to the words of Jesus himself? Jesus commands, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged” (Matthew 7:1), elaborating that to judge is to invite judgment. He illustrates with a story of two men, one with a splinter in his eye and the other with an entire log, how our focus should be on tending to our own blind spots and helping out our brothers, rather than judging each other. Yet Paul judges and advocates judging within the church! I have ideas on how to reconcile Paul and Jesus’ teachings on judgment, but I’ll leave you with this question: do you think Paul and Jesus are at odds on this matter? How would you square Paul’s words with Jesus’?