”He shall also make restitution for what he has done amiss in the holy thing and shall add a fifth to it and give it to the priest. And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and he shall be forgiven.” – Leviticus 5:16 ESV
God’s Word provides for us wonderful instruction in how to handle making amends when we have done wrong. The example is not that we should just ask forgiveness and continue the same path. The example is not that we should just ask forgiveness and make restitution back to how things were before. The example is given that we should make restitution “plus some” so the person is better off than before our actions harmed them.
Whether we have stolen,
Whether we have not paid back a debt.
Whether we have claimed something found as our own.
Whether we have caused them harm intentionally or unintentionally, we are to make amends with that person.
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “If anyone sins and commits a breach of faith against the Lord by deceiving his neighbor in a matter of deposit or security, or through robbery, or if he has oppressed his neighbor or has found something lost and lied about it, swearing falsely—in any of all the things that people do and sin thereby— if he has sinned and has realized his guilt and will restore what he took by robbery or what he got by oppression or the deposit that was committed to him or the lost thing that he found or anything about which he has sworn falsely, he shall restore it in full and shall add a fifth to it, and give it to him to whom it belongs on the day he realizes his guilt. And he shall bring to the priest as his compensation to the Lord a ram without blemish out of the flock, or its equivalent for a guilt offering. – Leviticus 6:1-6 ESV
And we aren’t supposed to be lime the Pharisees who followed the letter of the law but didn’t live in the Spirit of the law. This makes it clear to us that we should make amends not only over “things” stolen, but also over our actions, our words, our bitterness or withholding forgiveness. Yes, this is meant to be a life of repentance, a life walking in the Spirit bearing the fruit of a life surrendered to pouring out love onto others.
We don’t use the idea of grace to excuse our continued hurting and oppression of our brothers and sisters. And we don’t use Jesus or religion or law or tithes as an excuse for why we haven’t made things right or done what we know is right towards another person, or withold what we owe them.
He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” – Matthew 15:3-9 ESV
And another way to say the same thing:
Pay your debts as they come due. However, one debt you can never finish paying is the debt of love that you owe each other. The one who loves another person has fulfilled Moses’ Teachings. The commandments, “Never commit adultery; never murder; never steal; never have wrong desires,” and every other commandment are summed up in this statement: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Love never does anything that is harmful to a neighbor. Therefore, love fulfills Moses’ Teachings. – Romans 13:8-10 GW
If there is some area of your life that is not right with God,go to Him in humble, repentant prayer. If there is some address of your life where you have hurt someone else, make amends now for your debts.
According to Proverbs 22:7 (NIV), “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” When Dave was confronted with this Scripture, he had to really consider who was right—his broke finance professor, who taught that debt is a tool, or God, who never has anything good to say about debt. – The Truth about Debt, Dave Ramsey
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and remember there that another believer has something against you, leave your gift at the altar. First go away and make peace with that person. Then come back and offer your gift. “Make peace quickly with your opponent while you are on the way to court with him. Otherwise, he will hand you over to the judge. Then the judge will hand you over to an officer, who will throw you into prison. I can guarantee this truth: You will never get out until you pay every penny of your fine.
Matthew 5:23-26 GW
I do not say these things to leave you trapped in guilt and shame, but to encourage you towards love and good works – and so that you might be a blessing to others and not a burden. I say this so that the ones who have operated as thieves will learn discipline and hard work and will not only provide for themselves, but will become generous providers for others as well. I say these things because I have learned these things are the best, they are the way that I follow, they are the Truth that leads to life.
You were taught to change the way you were living. The person you used to be will ruin you through desires that deceive you. However, you were taught to have a new attitude. You were also taught to become a new person created to be like God, truly righteous and holy. So then, get rid of lies. Speak the truth to each other, because we are all members of the same body. Be angry without sinning. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the devil any opportunity ⌊to work⌋. Thieves must quit stealing and, instead, they must work hard. They should do something good with their hands so that they’ll have something to share with those in need. Don’t say anything that would hurt ⌊another person⌋. Instead, speak only what is good so that you can give help wherever it is needed. That way, what you say will help those who hear you.
Ephesians 4:22-29 GW
Lord, do not let this Word fall by the wayside. Lord, do not let it be stolen away. Do not let it just stir our feelings and excite us for us to give up when the challenge comes. Lord, plant this firmly into our hearts and minds, and help us to live this out. Renew us to walk in Truth and Love. Amen.