June 6-7, 2009
The Legal Swamp, Part One
by Charles R. Swindoll
Law never fails to turn me off.
Don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't think we need it . . . it's just that it leaves me cold. It frowns and demands. It requires and warns and threatens. With a grim glare, it dares us to forget its rules or even think about disobeying its regulations.
I know, I know. It protects us. It gives us recourse when we've been assaulted or abused. It's the ultimate big stick we can wave in the face of an adversary. "I'll sue!" has therefore become our favorite national slogan, which fits perfectly into our me-ism society.
"I've got my rights."
"I've got it coming to me."
"I don't have to take that from you."
Those are the overused words of our overkill generation. Parents are now being sued by their children. Teachers are being sued by their pupils. Coaches are being sued by their players. Spouses are being sued by their partners, and it isn't limited to unbelievers. Christians are now neck deep in the legal swamp. Christian neighbors sue each other. Christian faculty members are now filing suit against the administrations of Christian schools. Churches not only sue one another, congregations now sue their pastors---and vice versa. Parishioners who have complaints about the counseling they received from their ministers are turning to the courts to voice their anger and to seek a financial settlement.
Yes, brothers and sisters in the family of God are actually pressing charges and demanding their rights . . . sometimes to the exclusion of any attempt to reconcile face to face. You'd think 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 is either written in hieroglyphics or is no longer considered part of the biblical text.
Now, don't think I'm naive enough to believe we Christians don't need law or that we never have reason to complain . . . or that I'm blinded to the fact that there are rip-off con artists---wolves in sheep's clothing---who prey on and exploit flocks. We must be discerning, alert, ever mindful that human depravity must be held in check, and on occasion it must be exposed.
But the way we go about it, the spirit with which we handle our conflicts, the attitudes we exhibit while working through the process of reconciliation are crucial . . . that is where our Christianity is often hung out to dry. And that is where we have an opportunity to exhibit the astounding grace of Christ.
Is the big courtroom win worth it? Jesus said, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?" (Matthew 16:26).
Tomorrow we'll take a look at God's alternative to the legal swamp.
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.