Don’t Rush to Court

Do not go hastily to court;

For what will you do in the end,

When your neighbor has put you to shame?

Debate your case with your neighbor,

And do not disclose the secret to another;

Lest he who hears it expose your shame,

And your reputation be ruined.

(Proverbs 25:8-10)

King Solomon here gives us instructions about going to court and filing law suits. We should not rush to bring an action before we consider it carefully and consult with others first. We have to weigh the matter deliberately, because we tend to be partial to our own cause. 

Do not bring an action before you have tried to end the matter amicably. Debate the issue with the other person first, and you might understand each other and fix the problem without involving the judge. Do not in revenge, to disgrace your adversary, disclose private things which do not even belong to the cause of the issue.

King Solomon gives us two reasons to be cautious about going to the law:

  1. The issue might turn against you if the defendant has justified themselves. It might turn out to be a frivolous complaint and you will be ashamed, and possibly made to pay costs, which all could have been avoided with a little consideration. 
  2. Things will turn against you if your character becomes known as being litigious. Not only the defendant himself, but others that hear about the matter might think you are a person of no principle. 

Even President Lincoln, a self-taught lawyer, who was raised in a strict Christian family, often quoted God’s word and disfavored unnecessary litigation. In his notes he said “Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser—in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.” [1] Although this advice seems to be for lawyers, it can certainly be applied to all parties in the lawsuit. 

Therefore be cautious when you want to sue, or when you want to take a fellow person in front of a magistrate, for the results might not please you, and you might lose God’s favor. 

[1] “Fragment: Notes on a Law Lecture.” Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. vol.II: pp.82-83.

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