Matthew R. Perry

Do Christians Have Any Rights? (Part II: What About Our Security?)

In Church Life, Culture, Sermons on July 26, 2008 at 11:44 am

(This sermon was preached on Sunday, July 20, 2008, at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, Kentucky. To listen to this sermon in its entirety, click here.  To read Part I, click here.)

In Matthew 5:40, Jesus says, “And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.” Since 99.999% of Americans do not wear tunics and cloaks, this particular saying of Christ may leave us scratching our heads. We need to see the context. This tunic is seen as an undergarment and was worn next to the skin. The cloak, however, was the outer garment which was very precious. It kept the man warm and also served as a blanket by night. In Exodus 22:26-27, the Mosaic Law stated:

If ever you take your neighbor’s cloak in pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down, [27] for that is his only covering, and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.

Therefore, the cloak was very precious — and usually the only one they had. When someone is sued, but has no money, the fine would often entail clothing. The one being sued is usually in the wrong, but often unwilling to help remedy the situation unless made to do so. But what is someone being sued is not in the wrong? How should the Christian respond?

Among the people of God, it should never, ever come to a point where Christians would go before a worldly court in order to have justice prevail. The Christian should be willing to give up his “cloak” if you will, in order to restore the relationship.

In 1 Cor. 6:1-8, the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit sheds some light on the matter.

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!

Paul chastises the Corinthian church for settling disputes before a worldly court. This passage tells us that the church has a greater authority and ability to handle issues among God’s people than sinful, worldly courts. It would be better to be defrauded!

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