Have you ever experienced conflict with another believer? Of course you have! We all have! But have you ever viewed that conflict not as a nuisance or inconvenience, but as a means of God’s grace that may potentially be pointing us to the gospel? In 1 Corinthians 6, there’s no shortage of conflict in the church, and this conflict isn’t being resolved in gospel grace, but in the courts. We utilize Godly wisdom to graciously resolve conflict with one another.
- Godly Wisdom Enables us to Handle Conflict Graciously: v.1-8
It should be noted that Paul never assumes that there won’t be conflict, his issue is how the Corinthians are dealing with it. Instead of lovingly resolving the issue, they’re taking one another to court! Paul begins to speak into this by noting a few aspects that lead to this wrong thinking. First, they’ve failed to see their identity in Christ. In multiple ways, Paul draws this out. We see our identity as saints. We’re the children of God. We see identity in participation with Christ in judgment. We see identity as a gospel community. But the church has failed to see this, which is what has led them to functioning this way. Instead of identity, they lean on worldly wisdom, which utterly fails them. Finally, in verses 7-8, we see how Godly wisdom models gospel grace in conflict. Paul’s suggestion is that instead of going to court, instead of fighting and striving for what I want, that there are times where we’re willing to be wronged and defrauded. That may sound ludicrous, and truthfully it is if this world is all that we have. But an eternal perspective helps us to see beyond what’s right in front us. Because of this, we’re willing to suffer wrong and be defrauded because Christ has done this for us!
On Sunday, we talked about 3 Practical ways that we can handle conflict. Let me briefly include them here:
- Go to them, seeking restoration: Matthew 18:15 Here we see Jesus calling us to go to the person that has sinned against us (which is counterintuitive). Then, we see that the goal is restoration. It’s not to prove that I’m right or to vindicate myself, but to be restored to my brother or sister!
- Go to them, seeking restored worship: Matthew 5:23-24 Here, Jesus is sharing an example of offering a gift at the altar. He tells us that we need to be right with others before bringing worship to Him. We can’t be right with God if we’re wrong with others!
- Live at peace with all: Romans 12:18 Finally, we see that our goal is to make every effort we can to be right. But God understands that sometimes others won’t be willing to come to the table. In that case, we are commanded, so long as it depends on us, to be at peace with all men.
- The Gospel Models God’s Response to Our Conflict with Him: v.9-11
You may find yourself trying to figure out the connection between verses 1-8 and verses 9-11. It would seem that Paul’s desire is to help the Corinthians connect what they would have known to be true of those in verses 9-10 with their conduct in verses 1-8. Paul has a serious concern about whether or not, the gospel in its fullness, has truly gripped them! So he begins by warning them. He warns them not to be deceived. Worldly wisdom will deceive us into thinking that we’re better off than we actually are. Nothing is more tragic than someone who thinks that they’re right with God, only to find out too late that they aren’t! In this concern, he points them toward the glory of gospel change. In verse 11, we see three verbs, all of which are passive. This is what God is doing to us. He washes us. This means we’re cleansed of our sin. He sanctifies us. This means God is conforming us to His image and to look more and more like Him. Finally, He justifies us. This means that we are legally declared as righteous before God. We no longer have to strive to perform or prove that we deserve God’s love, it has been proven for us!
God help us that we would utilize Godly wisdom to graciously resolve conflict with one another!