Q. You said it was ok to take the dishonest contractor to court, but what about 1 Co 6? Didn’t Paul discourage lawsuits there?
A. First, let’s see what 1 Co 6:1-8 say:
1 Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints?
2 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?
3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?
4 So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church?
5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren,
6 but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?
7 Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?
8 On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren.
I did not quote 1 Co 6 because I did not think it applied to the inquirer’s case. Observe the following:
• Who: neighbor (v 1), saints (v 1, 2), brethren (v 5, 8), brother (v 6 twice). Paul was talking about believers as plaintiff and defendant.
• What: go to law (v 1, 6), lawsuits with one another (v 7), constitute law courts (v 2). This refers to Christians suing each other before unbeliever judges. It also refers to the lack of wise Christians competent to constitute law courts (v 2) and sit as judge to decide cases (v 5).
• How: Avoid lawsuits and rather be wronged or defrauded (v 7).
• Why: The testimony of the church is at stake, because we have been justified, sanctified and washed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God.
The inquirer’s case involved an unbeliever contractor defrauding a believer customer. This is a straight-forward tort case, in which a wrongful act by the contractor (substitution of inferior materials) caused harm to the customer (costly repairs and replacement), and led to civil legal liability. It has nothing to do with lawsuits between Christians, nor the unavailability of mature Christians judging such grievances. The issue does not involve the reputation of the church. That’s why I did not refer to this in the discussion. Simply because the passage is about lawsuits does not mean that it applies to the current situation. We must exercise caution in applying only relevant principles to the case in hand.