Thursday, November 5, 2009

Repentance and Restitution

AMCULT-JUSTICE GAVEL …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 6:4-6

This passage deals with ways in which human beings have sinned against other human beings. It focuses on property and transactions. The passage explains that the following kinds of things are serious sins among people: deceiving for financial gain, robbery, oppression of the poor or needy, claiming a valuable lost item for yourself without due process, or in any other way hurting someone and gaining personally from it.

The principles for dealing with these issues involved first of all a willingness to repent of the wrong done, secondly, a readiness to make restitution (20% was the suggested interest value to add to the restoration), and finally offering a significant guilt offering before the Lord to make atonement for the sin. This recognized the personal, societal, and spiritual impact of these crimes and dealt with them accordingly.

When we sin against others there are impacts. We are weakened as people. The sinner is made worse by his sin, which is why repentance is a good start and restitution a good act. It makes an effort at confronting fallen natures and stirring them toward something good. The hurt that is done to the other person can never fully be taken away. We cannot eliminate it. But a fair and uniform system of compensation (120% value is a great start for tort reform!) can go a long way toward society being impacted by restoration and restitution to the victim. Of course, the biggest need is spiritual. The reason the pain or the oppression or the loss occurred in the first place was because a sinner acted on sinful impulses and sinned like sinners do. To find forgiveness with God as well as restitution with society helps set the person on a new ground of forgiveness. He cannot make restitution to God, only to man. But God can grant forgiveness, and that grace changes hearts.

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