The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? (1 Cor. 6:7)
Through the Bible: 1 Corinthians 5-8
Paul asks, “Wouldn’t you rather be wronged and cheated” than to have the name of Christ discredited in the eyes of the world?
This is a hard question for us to answer in the world today. Not long ago, I talked with a church member about this very issue. She and her husband had contracted with another church member to have some work done in their house. Unfortunately, the upgrade they wanted actually caused a lot of damage because of poor workmanship. They are now having to pay money they don’t have in order to repair what this church member can’t fix. The husband wants to just forget about it and eat the costs of getting the job done right. The wife wants the other church member to make it right. For his part, the other church member says he doesn’t have the money or the time to come back and do the job right.
So, yeah. Paul’s question isn’t rhetorical. Honestly, no: I WOULDN’T rather be wronged and cheated. This goes against every part of my human nature not to stand up for myself. Not to demand my rights. Not to plead my case.
Here, I think what Paul says in chapter 5 about sexual integrity can rightly be transferred to dealing with integrity in business. If you are not to associate with a sexually immoral person who bears the name “brother” (1 Cor 5:9-11), then a brother with sketchy business should be just as subject to church discipline as the man sleeping with his stepmother.
There are two questions we need to ask: “What does love require?” and “What protects the gospel?”
Love may require confronting the other church member. Love asks the question: “Do I care about this person enough to call him out on an integrity issue?” Or is it more loving to keep quiet and pay someone else to make the repairs, especially as this person is trying to get his business off the ground? I can’t say definitively that one or the other is the right thing to do in this situation, but at least I’m asking the right question. And asking the right question helps eliminate wrong responses. For example, love requires that I don’t torch the guy with a negative review online if I haven’t confronted him one on one. Love requires that I tell him why I couldn’t recommend him to someone else.
You also have to evaluate which does greater damage to the gospel: asking for a handyman to make it right, even if that means pursuing legal action, or allowing someone who is known in the community as a member of our church to continue to do shoddy work and not take responsibility for his actions?
There’s not an easy answer, and maybe this is a good place to remember that the epistles were written to specific people at specific times to address specific issues. There are universal principles in the epistles, to be sure, but there are also specific circumstances. The trick with the epistles is to rightly discern which is which. Depending on your circumstances, the best two questions to ask may not be, “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?”
Instead, maybe the best two questions to ask are:
What does love require?
What protects the gospel?